ISFIRE ISLAMIC FINANCE REVIEW
Volume 2 | Issue 4 | November - 2012 | £20
The 'Global Family' Islamic Banking and Entrepreneurship Global Islamic Finance Forum 2012 Channelling Mondragon: Rethinking Islamic Finance Islamic Finance in Libya: Opportunities During Transition Keynes and the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ In the Imaginarium of Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa Role of Product Development in Islamic Financial Institutions Subaskaran Allirajah Group Chairman and Founder of Lycamobile
Islamic Microfinance at the Crossroads
INSPIRED FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE
Committed to Excellence!
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Islamic Finance Review Volume 2 | Issue 4 | November 2012 ISSN 2049-1905
Professor Humayon Dar PhD, Cambridge University
From the Editor
Islamic Banking and Entrepreneurship Professor Kabir Hassan and Professor Rasem N. Kayed
Global Islamic Finance Forum 2012 An ISFIRE Report
Channelling Mondragon: Rethinking Islamic Finance (Part II) Rizwan Rahman
The Lycamobile Family Company Profile
Islamic Finance in Libya: Opportunities During Transition Layla El-Wafi and Assad Riyany
Keynes and the ‘Innocence of Muslims’ Rizwan Rahman
Role of Product Development in Islamic Financial Institutions Irshad Ahmad Aijaz
In the Imaginarium of Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa
Prudential Guidelines for Tawarruq Pause for Thought
Raja Teh Maimunah Raja Abdul Aziz Personality
Islamic Microfinance at the Crossroads Dr. Mohammed Kroessin
International Editorial Board Dr. Sofiza Azmi
Asian Institute of Finance
From the Editor
In This Issue
Dr. Mehmet Asutay Durham University
Dr. Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki International Shari’ah Research Academy
Dr. Mian Farooq Haq State Bank of Pakistan
Professor Kabir Hassan
University of New Orleans
Datuk Noripah Kamso
CIMB - Principal Islamic Asset Management
Dr. Asmadi Mohamed Naim Universiti Utara Malaysia
Dr. Usamah Ahmed Uthman King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals
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he market is a dynamic organism. Ever in flux, the demands of consumers remain the food of speculation for businesses. Demand for goods deemed necessary can be provided for easily. But the excitement of the markets remains when businesses create a product previously non-existent, and encourage the demand. In economic terms, demand can create supply but supply can also create demand. The inception of Islamic finance was very much a case of demand creating the supply, and it will always be the case, as Shari’a sensitive consumers require financial products that adhere to the prescriptions of the Shari’a. For creation and innovation of financial products to succeed, it has to meet both Muslim requirements and the dictates of Shari’a. More than that, Islamic finance needs to be the harbinger of dynamic development in the commercial markets. Unfortunately, creation and innovation of new commercial, non financial products remains marginal in the Muslim world. Islamic finance does not do enough to promote this in the commercial markets. Fundamentally, the problem resides in moving away from the equity-orientated nature of Islamic finance. The intellectual purpose of ISFIRE is to readdress the balance, bringing the industry back towards a focus on equity-based products rather than predominately a permutation of debt based products. The starting point is therefore on entrepreneurship, and in this issue we explore it in greater depth. The writings of Professor Kabir Hassan have undoubtedly been an asset to the intellectual maturisation of this industry. Along with Professor Rasem N. Kayed, they analyse the centrality of entrepreneurship to Islamic finance. Concentration on developing entrepreneurship will shift the product development process and broaden the Islamic financial institution’s impact on wider society. It will also change perceptions. For far too long the industry has been accused of being reactionary and not inventive. It is true that the industry had to push the boundaries of Shari’a acceptability, but after 40 years, the foundations have been set. It is time to move forward. Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa represents the
Professor Humayon Dar Editor-in-Chief
potential of investing in ideas. The affable creator of the comic ‘THE 99’ took the time out to speak to us about superheroes originating from Islamic values, which for him are universal values. Unicorn Investment Bank (now Bank AlKhair), an Islamic financial institution, were one of the first funders of ‘THE 99’. As the global popularity of ‘THE 99’ increases, with its evocative themes of unity and cultural understanding, the background of the comic comprises of an Islamic financial institution providing the initial lifeblood. What greater an example is there of the potential of Islamic finance to encourage entrepreneurship. Islamic finance has to be more than just prosaic financial technicalities. It has to link itself firmly with the ‘halal’ industry. One of the criteria for Islamic stock screening is ensuring businesses are not offering products deemed Shari’a repugnant. Lycamobile, a growing telecommunications company, is the type of business idea that the Shari’a encourages. Their products have been created to bring people together in today’s global village. With cheap rates, CEO Mr. Milind Kangle and Chairman Subaskaran Allirajah deserve recognition for the good work they have done. They are the subject of the Company Profile. Entrepreneurship has to be encouraged in the impoverished or war-torn communities too. Microfinance has proven to be effective in encouraging entrepreneurship in villages throughout the world. Dr. Mohammed Kroessin discusses the current state of Islamic microfinance and what needs to be done to improve its value proposition. He sees substance but is also aware of the challenges that need to be overcome. Islamic Relief Worldwide is actively involved in setting up Microfinance
programmes throughout the world. Layla El-Wafi and Assad Riyany explore the potential of Islamic finance in postGaddafi Libya. Two things are clear: firstly, there is government interest in Islamic finance as seen by the passing of the Islamic Banking Law in May 2012; and secondly, there is a strong demand for Islamic financial services. In the rebuilding effort, domestic and international investment into infrastructure and the generation of a dynamic commercial sector will push Libya forward. Rizwan Rahman has written two articles in this edition. The first looks at the Keynesian ideas of improving capitalism. His thoughts can be harnessed for the benefits of Islamic finance. The second article concludes the investigation of the Mondragon Cooperation. According to Rizwan, greater connectivity between communities, financial institutions and commercial organisations can improve the value proposition of Islamic finance. We believe that ISFIRE is taking shape, with sections being consolidated and defined. Our hope is to establish a publication that fully reflects and promotes the Muslim economic contribution to society. We hope for your support as we continue this process.
Professor Humayon Dar Editor-in-Chief
Professor Rasem N. Kayed
Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the western capitalist system. The creation of businesses and the development of ideas have undoubtedly benefited society but without the investment, and continual innovation commercial growth would have stalled. Today, Islamic banking is in a position to encourage entrepreneurship in Muslim communities. Professors Rasem N. Kayed and Kabir Hassan explore the relationship between entrepreneurship and Islamic banking further to find a coherent match.
Islamic Banking and Entrepreneurship
any muslims possessing financial resources are confronted with the question of how to safeguard their money while remaining faithful to the principles of Islamic financing. Islam forbids money hoarding because hoarding money means preventing it from achieving its intended objectives and negates its function as a viable tool for development. Hoarding money is also prohibited on the ground that it obstructs the Muslim population from realising socioeconomic justice among its members- “those who hoard up gold and silver and do not spend it in the way of Allah, give them the tidings of a painful punishment” (Qur’an 9:43). The logical alternative to hoarding is investing and investment could be realised through having a range of opportunities. Money can be passively invested in commercial banks to earn fixed interest.
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Professor Kabir Hassan
This form of investment is deemed unlawful, hence condemned and prohibited in Islam. Investments could also take the form of investing in the stock market, real estate, and import/export and in many other alternatives. This line of investments involves productive as well as unproductive or even destructive business activities. Islam sanctions only productive business activities, which abide by the rules of the Shari’a and preserve Islamic values. The Islamic alternative to hoarding is spending in the way of Allah, which includes investing in business activities that are moral, productive and socially desirable. The Muslim investor therefore is encouraged to start a business of his/her own or enter into a partnership agreement with a potential entrepreneur to create a new business entity. It is important to appreciate that not every individual Muslim with extra money to invest possesses the
qualities, the traits and the personality to be an entrepreneur. Thus, the comprehensibility of the Islamic financial system accommodates such situations by allowing the investor to have a share in the business venture through a partnership arrangement with the potential entrepreneur who does not have the financial resources to start his/her business. This concept of partnership is best understood within the Islamic financial arrangements of musharaka and mudaraba (direct partnership with the entrepreneur or through an Islamic financial institution). Such an arrangement ensures that the potential entrepreneur will not start the business disadvantaged with a heavy interest burden added to the initial borrowing which has to be repaid regardless of the outcome of the business venture. While capitalism considers money to be capital, Islam argues that capital is the portion of wealth that is used in productive work. Money is a measure of value and a means of exchange, and it is not a commodity for speculation. Thus it remains potential capital until it is invested in productive economic activity together with other means of production (land, labour and entrepreneurship). Accordingly, Islamic banking plays a crucial role in economic development by transforming money into capital through the act and the process of entrepreneurship. Both Islamic and classical economics consider capital to be a factor of production along with land, labour and entrepreneurship, but they differ in their view of profit generated by capital as an outcome of the production process. While classical economics accepts interest as capital’s share of income, Islamic economics defines capital’s share of income in terms of profit/ loss generated by capital through the act of partnership, i.e. profit loss sharing (PLS) between the financer and the entrepreneur. Islamic banking through the mudaraba and musharaka instruments is preferentially situated to play a positive role in advancing the cause of Islamic entrepreneurship, where financial capital is combined with human capital to create new business entities. Islamic banking provides current and potential entrepreneurs with needed halal capital to start/expand their businesses. It also provides them with protection against risk and uncertainty by spreading the risk between the entrepreneur and the investor through partnership arrangements. The expertise of the bank team under musharaka will encourage entrepreneurs to engage in more innovative and original business undertakings. Quality entrepreneurship would also be promoted as entrepreneurs compete to take advantage of available financial capital,
financial suppliers will have the opportunity to evaluate entrepreneurs’ proposals and business plans, and to enter into partnership contracts where prospects seem promising. The most common Islamic models of finance are qard al-hasan (benevolent or good loan), murabaha (cost plus financing), mudaraba (silent partnership) and musharaka (partnership financing). Qard al-hasan is an interest-free loan to be repaid at the amount of borrowed principal. This form of Islamic financing does not bear interest and does not forge a business relation between the lender and the borrower. It is most likely to take place where the lender and the borrower enjoy a form of personal relationship. Mudaraba and particularly musharaka are the two types of Islamic financial instruments that are highly significant to entrepreneurship since they have defined risk boundaries and strict PLS rules. Mudaraba (silent partnership): This is a contract between two parties: the financial institution (bank) and the entrepreneur. The bank acts in the capacity of being the financer by providing needed capital and
part of such financial arrangements. Under mudaraba, the entrepreneur assumes total management of the business, rendering the financial institution a passive partner with little or no real authority to influence the process of the business venture. The bank usually has to rely on faith, trust, and a sound confidence in the entrepreneur who is expected to abide by Islamic business ethics. In addition, the bank insists on the entrepreneur having a convincing argument for the economic feasibility of the proposed business undertaking. Musharaka (partnership financing): Musharaka in the Arabic language means “partnership”. Musharaka as well as mudaraba are two PLS-based financial instruments that conform entirely to Islamic financial principles. Musharaka is an identical mudaraba contract between the entrepreneur and the financial institution, except where the entrepreneur contributes to the starting capital in addition to his/her physical and mental contributions towards the business venture. Thus, the two instruments differ in the sense that musharaka gives both the
“As Muslim entrepreneurs in an interest-free economy do their utmost to maximise their returns, they end up also maximising the earnings of their partners – Islamic financial institutions. This mutually beneficial relationship promotes a true spirit of cooperation and partnership between the entrepreneur and his/her wider community (the local investors), and consequently advances the cause of entrepreneurship through the participation of the common man and woman.” the entrepreneur devotes his/her ideas, skills, expertise and time to invest the money in a productive and socially accepted halal business venture. The agreement is based on the principles of PLS; profit when realised is shared by both parties according to prenegotiated ratios. In the case of incurring a loss, the bank bears the entire financial burden and loses all the invested money – unless caused by irresponsible behaviour, misconduct or negligence of the managing partner (the entrepreneur) or breach of the conditions mutually agreed upon by both financial institution and entrepreneur. Otherwise, the entrepreneur’s loss is limited to his/her invested time and effort. Research has demonstrated that banks are very cautious in their response to potential entrepreneurs and are not keen on being
entrepreneur and the bank the opportunity to share the finances (assets or working capital) as well as the management of the business. Consequently, the entrepreneur will be exposed to capital loss. Under the musharaka arrangement, the bank has a say in the operation of the business and profit is shared according to pre-determined proportions such as the partners’ percentage contribution to the start-up capital after deducting the entrepreneur’s management fees. Losses are also borne accordingly in line with the partners’ proportion of capital contribution. It has been pointed out by scholars that as Muslim entrepreneurs in an interest-free economy do their utmost to maximise their returns, they end up also maximising the earnings of their partners – Islamic financial institutions. This mutually beneficial relationship promotes a true spirit
of cooperation and partnership between the entrepreneur and his/her wider community (the local investors), and consequently advances the cause of entrepreneurship through the participation of the common man and woman. Another positive implication of the partnership between the Islamic financial institutions and potential entrepreneurs will be manifested in the quality of the emerging enterprises. Being under a moral obligation to
necessarily make the Islamic state a welfare state. Therefore, the nature and the function of zakat are by no means to be linked to, or interpreted in welfare terminology. Zakat is an effective empowering instrument and the zakat funds should be employed to achieve the ultimate goal of realising socio-economic justice. The role of zakat as a developmental tool is reflected in three distinct groups of Muslims: the givers, the recipients and the Muslim
“Disadvantaged groups and marginalised poor individuals have incontestable rights to the zakat funds. The implications of this entitlement go beyond providing the needy with the basics to meet their immediate needs. Rather, it is an opportunity to cultivate in them the spirit of entrepreneurship and productivity through financial assistance and training, so they might start a business of their own.” protect the interest of their shareholders and depositors, Islamic banks will be obliged to implement cautious but practical measures when weighing their investment options, thus entering into partnership agreements with the most promising business plans. Of these two arrangements, musharaka is the option preferred by the banks because it exposes the entrepreneur to the real risk of losing a portion of his/her investment, hence motivates him/her to exert that extra effort and be more cautious. Musharaka arrangements also provide the financial institution with the opportunity to be an active participant in the entrepreneurial activity and to oversee the operation of the business. The Islamic model of entrepreneurship does not incorporate taxes into its structure. Instead, the fourth pillar of Islam, zakat, requires all Muslims, including entrepreneurs, to pay annually a pre-determined percentage (2.5%) on their wealth (including any idle wealth) exceeding nisab (threshold allowance) in order for the Islamic state to ensure the proper and just redistribution of zakat funds amongst the needy. In most contemporary Islamic countries, it is left to the goodwill of the individual Muslim to decide on how much zakat to pay without the meddling of the state. Fulfilling its responsibility of overseeing the overall well-being of all its citizens, especially the underprivileged, does not
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population at large. First, by attending to their obligations towards zakat, Muslims are fulfilling one of Islam’s five pillars; hence, it is an act of ibada (worship). Muslims also regard the payment of zakat as a purification of their wealth that eventually will result in the growth of their capital instead of leading to its decrease. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Sadaqa [zakat or charity] does not reduce property” . The idea of growth through giving, which acts as a purification of wealth, is unique to Islam. It may appear counterintuitive and incomprehensible to the western mentality of increasing personal wealth through giving away a portion of it, but by paying zakat this is an anticipated consequence. More importantly, Muslims have much higher spiritual satisfaction in paying zakat due to their expectations of reaping the promised rewards in the hereafter. Disadvantaged groups and marginalised poor individuals have incontestable rights to the zakat funds. The implications of this entitlement go beyond providing the needy with the basics to meet their immediate needs. Rather, it is an opportunity to cultivate in them the spirit of entrepreneurship and productivity through financial assistance and training, so they might start a business of their own. Zakat is also a means to realise a just redistribution of wealth by taking (a specific portion) from the rich and giving it to the
needy. When a citizen in a non-Islamic country pays high taxes, she does not expect rewards beyond better state services. Muslims, on the other hand, individually determine the due amount of zakat and they pay it willingly. They do so because of their conviction that by paying zakat they are contributing to the establishment of Islamic socio-economic justice through a more just distribution of the nation’s wealth. Furthermore, zakat nurtures the spirit of unity, cooperation and mutual respect, rather than jealousy and resentment, between the members of society thus paving the way to the emergence of a more productive and cohesive society. Islam deplores the act of keeping the money idle or invested in passive bank deposits. Muslim scholars unanimously agree that idle money in excess of the nisab still falls within the definition and under the jurisdiction of money hoarding, even if the Muslim has paid the due zakat on such idle wealth. The idea is to encourage Muslims to spend the accumulated wealth in the cause of the Almighty Allah by investing it in a productive and useful manner. One can strongly argue that commanding zakat on any idle wealth could be interpreted as a conspicuous call for Muslims to engage their wealth in productive business activities, and also as a penalty imposed for averting such wealth from contributing to the well-being of the Muslim umma (through the act of entrepreneurship). A sound conclusion that can be drawn from this discussion is that Islam is explicitly motivating and even pushing Muslims towards productive economic activities, and that is to say, towards the creation of new business entities –towards entrepreneurship. Rasem N. Kayed is an Assistant Professor at the Arab American University, Palestine. M. Kabir Hassan is a Professor at the University of New Orleans, USA. Their book ‘Islamic Entrepreneurship” was published by Routledge in January 2011
The Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) is a comprehensive annual review of the activity, trends, new developments and thinking in the Islamic finance industry. It commissions contributions from leading global practitioners and thinkers in the field combining technical experience and invaluable knowledge and insight to propel Islamic finance forward in the post recessionary global financial markets. Edbiz Consulting is proud to announce the release of the Global Islamic Finance Report 2012, which continues the tradition of erudition and incisive analysis expected of the GIFR. The core theme of this year’s Report is “Social Responsibility and Philanthropy” with chapters on epistemology, ethics, global Muslim philanthropic activity, waqfs, charities, Islamic microfinance and corporate social responsibility. Along with the customary sections on the “Review of Industry Segments” and “Country Sketches”, the GIFR 2012 will endeavour to educate and incentivise those with a stake in the industry to continue pushing the boundaries of knowledge and innovation. What GIFR 2012 will bring to the industry: • Reportage and analysis of the global practices of the Islamic financial services industry. • Educate readers on how Shari’a compliant products are structured under different regulatory regimes. • Expert insights into the activity within respective industry sectors. • Induction of action points to create a more authentic and efﬁcient industry. • Inspire the discourse on the integration of commercial objectives and social responsibility. • Promote an ethical foundation to the creation of products and the offering of banking services. • Exposition of developments in the Islamic ﬁnance industry for the year 2011 in over 50 countries. • Ranking countries with regards to their level of activity in the industry through the Islamic Finance Country Index. For more information, please contact Rizwan Malik at email@example.com
Finance Forum 2012
State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Dr. Kazi Abdul Muktadir.
Increasing innovation (product development) and knowledge sharing;
compared to Islamic finance models currently in practice.
The first day started with the Executive Master Class focused on the necessity to engage with real macro problems within the global economy. The keynote address was by Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, who indicated that Islamic finance was contributing to the stability of the global economy and that it had boosted financial inclusion by ensuring a strong link between the financial sector and the real economy. Dr. Mohieldin
Ensuring adequate liquidity for long term financing;
Professor Dr. Abbas Mirakhor, First Holder of INCEIF’s Chair of Islamic Finance, delivered a session entitled “Back to Basics: Linking Islamic Finance to the Real Economy” where he advocated a moving away from the debt
Dr. Kazi Abdul Muktadir, Deputy Governor of the SBP, gave a keynote speech on “Regulation and Supervision- Setting an Enabling Environment for Islamic Microfinance”. When talking about Pakistan, a county where 56 percent of the adult population is financially excluded and more than 45 million people live below the poverty line, he stressed upon the support needed from the private sector. He stated that SBP has created a favourable
also highlighted the resilience the Islamic banking and finance industry had shown during the financial crisis and mentioned that most Islamic financial institutions were less affected as compared to their conventional counterparts. He concluded his keynote address by identifying some of the factors needed to continue the stability of Islamic finance:
based financial system to a risk sharing model. He mentioned that the current system is moving towards a collapse and there is no other alternative than to use a robust risk sharing system. He mentioned that if an economy’s rate of growth is smaller than the interest necessary to pay off its debt, then the capacity of the economy to repay its debt is stretched. The current crisis in Europe, especially the troubles in Greece, is a prime example of this. Rafe Haneef, CEO of HSBC Amanah Malaysia Berhad, who was one of the many noteworthy participants of the Executive Master Class, shared his views on the pros and cons of the risk sharing model as
policy environment for the private sector to take a lead. SBP is putting a lot of focus on converging microfinance and Islamic finance by focusing on their shared features. A panel focusing on “Successful Islamic Microfinance Models: Insights into Latest Market Developments” was moderated by Dr. Nursofiza Azmi, Senior Research Fellow at Asian Institute of Finance (AIF). The panel included Professor Dato' Dr. Mohd Azmi Omar, Director General, Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI) who went through a few successful models of Islamic microfinance from Pakistan. He also shared the work Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is doing in different
Establishing sound risk management practices.
An ISFIRE Report
ank Negara Malaysia (BNM) hosted the third Global Islamic Finance Forum (GIFF) in Kuala Lumpur on September 18-20, 2012. Previous GIFFs were held in 2007 and 2010. Given the decreasing time between the consecutive GIFFs (GIFF 2007 was held in March 2007, followed by GIFF 2010 held in October 2010; GIFF 2012 took place less than two years after), it is expected that this will become an annual gathering of perhaps the most influential leaders in Islamic banking and finance. GIFF is organized with the support of the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre (MIFC), which itself was launched in 2006 to promote Malaysia as a hub for Islamic 10
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finance. Since then, Malaysia has played a very important role in innovation and thought leadership in Islamic finance. This year’s event was supported and co-organised by Islamic Banking & Finance Institute Malaysia (IBFIM), Securities Commission of Malaysia, Bursa Malaysia, Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia (ABFIM), Malaysian Takaful Association, International Shariah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA), and International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF). The event was convened at the BNM’s state of the art building in Sasana Kijang and the old yet very impressive Lanie Kijang. The theme of GIFF 2012 was
“Internationalisation of Islamic Finance: Bridging Economies”. Given the importance of the theme, it attracted more than 1,100 applications for only 800 available places. Participants originated from 59 different countries. There were 155 speakers and included both local and international industry leaders to address topical issues around the current state of the industry and to seek solutions to challenges the Islamic finance industry faces. Prominent attendees included Deputy Prime Minister of Republic of Turkey, Ali Babacan, Dr. Mohmoud Mohieldin, a Managing Director of the World Bank Group, Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, and Deputy Governor of the
Improved fund supervision; Enhancing insolvency frameworks for dealing with sukuk defaults; Promoting standardization with new benchmarks for sukuk and other funds;
parts of the world, including Sudan.
“The Role of International Organisations: Regulating Governance of Shari’a Board Practices” was a session focusing on Shari’a governance. Some of the Shari’a scholars on the panel expressed the need for Shari’a boards to be positioned higher than the Board of Directors, which was vehemently opposed by other members of the panel and banking practitioners present in the session. The dissidents believed that this would have an adverse effect on the operational capability of Islamic financial institutions. Other discussions revolved around ensuring that all Islamic financial institutions had a systematic and robust Shari’a governance system. A point of contention was the levels of independence Shari’a board members should have and propositions were made for the creation of either a national or international Shari’a supervisory body to supervise the structuring of Islamic financial products. Institutions such as ISRA should play an important role in the development of Shari’a scholars and creating a robust audit and assurance facility. The lack of capable Shari’a scholars still remains a concern for the industry. At the session it was also agreed:
To empower institutions like ISRA and other academic and professional institutions/ individuals to develop audit guidelines;
HE Ali Babacan, Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, delivered his lecture on Day 2 where he discussed Turkey’s relationship with Europe, her economic resilience to the global financial crisis, and the burgeoning Islamic banking and finance industry. The Turkish economy grew 8.6 percent in 2011; however growth slowed down this year with an expected growth of 4 percent by the end of 2012. Of the global Islamic banking and finance industry, he recognised that there are significant opportunities for growth as current estimates suggest that the industry makes up only 1 percent of the global finance industry. Of Turkey, he stressed that the Islamic banking and finance industry is growing at a higher rate than its conventional counterpart. There are four participation banks (as Islamic banks are known in Turkey) in the country, comprising 5.6 percent of the total banking assets. Thus far, participation banking has created approximately 15,000 jobs. Turkey has also issued its first sovereign sukuk of USD 1.5billion, which was almost five times oversubscribed. Mr. Babacan also mentioned the possibility of issuing more sukuk. Further, he mentioned the resilience Turkey’s economy has shown to the global banking crisis.
To develop an ethics guide to Shari’a
To develop recommended guidelines on rating funds; To develop guidelines for criminal breach of trust. The "Global Islamic Liquidity Management" session focused on cross border liquidity management, the tools the industry already have and what needs to be developed and what the Islamic banking and finance industry needs to do to solve on-going liquidity issues. Speaking at the session, Dr. Adnan Chilwan, Deputy CEO of Dubai Islamic Bank, stated that if liquidity management products are to succeed across the globe, there needs to be a unified Shari’a board focused on developing globally accepted instruments. Bursa Malasyia’s Jamaluddin Nor Mohamad stressed the need for short-term money market tools as Islamic markets lack depth when compared with conventional counterparts. Ijlal Ahmed Alvi, CEO of the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM), shared their plans to study closely the expansion of the universe of acceptable collateral, from sukuk to Islamic
Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz highlighted the importance of the sukuk market as an important form of intermediation in Islamic finance and one that serves as a platform upon which international linkages are fostered. She proposed three key factors needed for the continued success of the Islamic banking and finance industry: The need for a global supply of high quality Islamic financial products and services capable of meeting international business requirements; Diverse and dynamic intermediaries and market participants with global focus; and Effective linkages and connections between global financial markets to be facilitated by business enablers, particularly in the area of legislation, taxation and regulation. She called for standardized documents and agreements among financial market players, so as to increase market efficiency, transparency and uniformity and reduce the cost of transactions. The GIFF Report, prepared by Kuwait Finance House (KFH), was presented by Baljeet Kaur Grewal, Managing Director and Vice Chairman
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at KFH Research. A thorough investigation of the different industry segments and asset classes, the report forecasts the Islamic banking and finance industry to hit USD 6.5 trillion by the end of the year 2020. Baljeet Grewal then chaired a panel that included Professor Humayon Dar, Chairman of Edbiz Corporation, and Rushdi Siddiqi, Global Head of Islamic Finance at Thomson Reuters. The panel discussed the overwhelming need for the Islamic Interbank Offer rate (IIBOR) to determine rates for Islamic finance products. For far too long the industry has relied on the conventional markets to derive rates. The IIBOR is a step in the right direction and moves the industry away from heavy reliance on interest-based mechanisms. The panel also discussed the role the Halal industry could play in the growth of Islamic banking and financial services. Professor Dar mentioned that a large portion of Halal business is not Shari’a compliant in its capital structure and hence there is a need to look into building a stronger relationship between the the Halal industry and Islamic finance. Edbiz Consulting recognized the importance of these two industries and hence the focus of next year’s annual report, Global Islamic Finance Report (GIFR) 2013, would be on “Islamic Finance and Halal Industry”. The need for developing human resources was also discussed.
the way there were compromises in drafting documentation and structuring. However, he mentioned that since the industry has been globally recognised, there is an opportunity for the industry to create more authentic products. Iqbal Khan advised organic growth and investment in research and development, and human capital, to strengthen the Islamic finance market. He praised the role that Shari’a scholars have played in the development of the industry emphasising the central and crucial role of Shari’a scholars for building consumer confidence in Islamic financial products.
Andrew Sheng Len Tao, President of the Fung Global Institute, advised regulators developing an Islamic stock market to study the weakness of Western stock markets, which have failed to fulfill fundamental functions including resource allocation, price discovery, risk management and corporate governance. The challenge for regulators is to effectively tackle corruption, manipulation and the lack of trust, etc. He continued by saying that non-Islamic stock markets are not serving the real sector and the challenge remains for the Islamic sector to do so. Andrew Sheng advised that in establishing an Islamic stock market, a back to basics approach should be utilized in its creation.
Launch of AmGlobal Sukuk Fund by Dato' Dr. Nik Ramlah Mahmood of Securities Commission.
Iqbal Khan, CEO Fajr Capital, gave a special address on the evolution of Islamic finance. He paid respect to the consumers who are at the heart of Islamic finance, and for whom the industry was established. The journey of Islamic finance has been one of negotiation with the dominant culture in order to meet demand and remain authentic. Explaining further, he reiterated that the pioneers of Islamic banking and finance industry were faced with two options: either they could have waited for a complete environment and regulatory framework to be in place or adapt to the market. By choosing the latter, along
A series of parallel events were organized alongside the GIFF 2012. These included product launches, business matching sessions, and MOU signings. Examples include: The launch of Bloomberg AIBIM Bursa Corporate Sukuk Index; Launch of Curriculum and Training Taskforce on Islamic Finance Education for Institutions of Higher Learning; Launch of BNP Paribas- INCEIF Centre for Islamic Wealth Management; Launch of Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA) by the Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Dato' Muhammad bin Ibrahim;
An MOU between BNM and 11 Malaysian Islamic banks for the Master Collateralised Commodity Murabaha Agreement. The Royal Award for Islamic Finance was presented to Iqbal Khan, CEO Fajr Capital. The award was presented by His Majesty Yang di- Pertuan Agong during the Royal Gala Dinner. Iqbal Khan was acknowledged for his dedication, drive and exceptional contribution to the global development of Islamic finance. He has been instrumental in establishing different Islamic financial institutions including HSBC Amanah, Citi Islamic Investment Bank, the Islamic Finance Project at Harvard University, Meezan Bank and most recently Fajr Capital. The jury selected Iqbal Khan from 32 nominations from all around the world. The chairman of the jury panel, Tun Musa Hitam commented, "The award recognises Iqbal Khan's contribution towards the development of Islamic finance and serves as an inspiration for the next generation." The first Royal Award was received by Dallah Al Baraka Chairmain Sheikh Saleh Kamel in 2010.
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industry would gainsay the notion that spiritual development is not within the sphere of concern but the institutions that prop up the industry (schools, universities) have a culture and do convey values. This culture and values are extenuated by the workplace. Corporate governance imparts values, and Islamic finance institutions have to be aware of the role they play in affecting a person’s comportment. Unfortunately, this is being forgotten. What has to be stressed is that spiritual development concerns the individual and not the community but by individual improvement, there will be community improvement.
Rethinking Islamic Finance Part II
In Part 1, Rizwan Rahman explored the Mondragon Cooperation model and argued that its socialist principles could benefit capitalistic enterprise and community empowerment. In this concluding part, the principles and structure of the Mondragon model are used as a benchmark to create a blueprint for improving the value proposition of Islamic finance. In the process, one can see similarities between the philosophies of both concepts.
revolution of the political and legal framework in a democracy is a painful endeavour. It is a point that is unfortunately missed by Islamic would-be revolutionaries in the Western world. The civil rights leader, Malcolm X, recognised the turmoil revolutions can cause to a society: “Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in its way.” His words are sagacious, yet what is egregious is that these would-be revolutionaries speak in generalities and platitudes boasting about Islam being the solution without offering much in the way of a plan or framework. To cause bloodshed without a robust manifesto for change is a tragedy for society. Islamic finance, as initially conceived, was revolutionary brought forth by revolutionary minds such as Maududi, Qutb and Al-Sadr. However, it progressed from being niche and defiant, to becoming mainstream and encompassing. Islamic finance became evolutionary not revolutionary and this has possibly given the industry longevity and
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a firm foundation. However, many believe Islamic finance has now lost its soul in its bid to appeal to not only Muslims but profiteers looking to gain from the market. Many Muslims and non-Muslims alike find little substantive difference between Islamic and conventional finance, and today people ask what does Islamic finance really offer?
similarity to the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and how these lessons can be applied in the modern world. In these next few pages, we offer a plan for improving Islamic finance but do not argue for a re-haul and removal of the current system. This would be counterproductive for the industry and will destroy the good work that has already taken place.
Nevertheless, the industry is here to stay as it has global appeal and a unique selling point: Shari’a compliancy. At the same time, and for its survival, the industry has to be mindful of the criticisms, especially the form versus substance argument that endlessly plagues the very foundations of the industry. It needs to realise that its fundamental and original goal is to meet the needs of the community, and not focus solely on profits. Learning from the model of the Mondragon Cooperation, synthesising profits and community alleviation is very possible, whilst still remaining decidedly and symbolically Islamic. We therefore explore the lessons that can be learned from Mondragon, its
In summary of the process in Figure 1, a community needs to be educated in developing their spiritual composition and sharpening their technical skills through creation of pedagogical institutions. This provides the backbone in galvanising members to work together by raising capital that can be donated into pool which is used for investment. Investment is then put into the development of ideas for commercial organisations and their eventual creation. These commercial organisations along with other institutions such as banks and schools should be linked in a broad network where each party supports the other. We now proceed to expand the framework further.
Figure 1: A framework for improving Islamic finance
Community A community will be made up of individuals who create their own social organisations such as families, religious institutions and grassroot organisations including social services and sport centres. Father Arizmendi, founder of Mondragon Cooperation entered a community in which there was a church. This was the centre point. He then integrated himself with the people and the social organisations that were already present. He organised communal events bringing the community together. Having these foundations in place made it easier for him to teach the people. Similarly, the Prophet entered into a community that had institutions in place, such as the Ka'aba, as well as strong tribal and family ties. However, there were no mosques, though it can be argued that the mosque stems from the Ka'aba as it was a house of worship. From the religious institution and the cultural normative, the Prophet built his mission. The church in Mondragon was the cornerstone from which these ideas and institutions were developed. Today, mosques are present in predominate Muslim communities. At the very least, hundreds, and in central mosques, thousands attend Friday prayers. Imams have a responsibility to impart both the consciousness of Allah and acting in accordance with the Shari’a to congregants. A dynamic imam can galvanise communities if he goes beyond preaching spiritual prerogatives. Islamic finance institutions need to have a greater relationship with mosques. Today, the relationship is tenuous (if existent at all) with mosque committees
expressing suspicion of Islamic finance and their objectives. Improving relationships does not mean the mosques should have a say in the activity of Islamic financial institutions but mutual support would benefit both parties.
Any society is founded on cultural norms, custom and values that are rarely codified, but understood. The legal and political framework of a society reflect certain values. Father Arizmendi was a Catholic priest, primarily in the community to assist spiritual growth. The Prophet’s fundamental objective was to grant his community the recognition of Allah. In doing so certain values were refracted from the notion of Tawheed (Figure 2). The Prophet became the exemplar of these values and from whom his community was to learn. Building role models is therefore important as well as aphoristic stories to convey the importance of values. In the modern world, spiritual development is considered quirky and quixotic. Yet with the plethora of psychiatrists and self help books, it still maintains its importance but in a different guise. The history of Islam testifies to the importance of a spiritual framework, starting with prayer and accommodating rituals and recitations. The science of tasawwuf focused on removing bad qualities of a person, and institutions such as guilds and sufi lodges were created to assist a person in purifying themselves. The
A fundamental lesson that can be taken from Mondragon is community unity and the importance of imbuing this within members. Arizmendi emphasised the importance of helping each other, especially as the community at the time was in the grips of poverty. In Islam, the concept of the ‘umma’ is central to the religion’s strength. The oftrepeated hadith, “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, fellowfeeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches,” highlights the importance of having social consciousness. An important point is that Father Arizmendi tackled the challenges of a localised community; the Prophet Muhammad first built up his local community. In the modern world, the global village has broadened the definition of the community, and Muslims appear to take on the pains of other Muslims around the world. However, this is a weakness of the Muslim consciousness resulting in arbitrary and nonplussed activity. The first point of
Figure 2: Values from Tawheed
change is the local community, then the surrounding communities and then those who are further away. It was a point that the Prophet understood as his mission grew from Medina. It is something Father Arizmendi understood with his parish, Mondragon. Islamic finance institutions have to consider the local community needs first, which will differ according to location and socioeconomic status. There has to be greater inter-community linkages. Western institutions have understood the importance of social responsibility and Islamic institutions need to learn from this. In Figure 3, the governing principles of Arizmendi’s cooperative are reproduced, this time showing how the Prophet had similar principles to encourage social conciousness. •
Schools and universities are the foundation to a person’s knowledge of the world, both in terms of technical knowledge and philosophy. It is within the school that citizens are influenced and, to some extent, moulded. Every educational institution indoctrinates, the best ones align with the norms of society. Arizmendi’s first creation was a technical school that taught values and provided skill sets. As the Mondragon Cooperation grew, a university was developed. The Prophet taught
his community values and law. It was up to his community to build from his teachings, and they certainly did creating educational systems that created philosophers, lawyers, scientists, etc. Technical skills on the other hand were a societal concern, and not a religious concern, though the Prophet encouraged people to work and not be aesthetical monks. It was part of their religious duties. Madrasas represent the conduit through which the Prophet's teachings are disseminated but many of them today suffer from a disconnection with greater society. More needs to be done to change the pedagogy of madrasas to account both for spiritual and technical education.
Financial intermediation •
Banks and governments are the best institutions to accumulate people’s money and distribute to the private sector. Due to the fractional reserve system, banks have access to all the cash earned by individuals who choose to deposit. This is a significant pool of income they can use. As mentioned in Part 1, Arizmendi ascribed the failure of cooperatives to a lack of credit and/or lack of innovation. He therefore requested donations
from the community, which created the pool of income to invest in commercial ventures. The Prophet used to rely on his community to donate for large-scale ventures such as poverty alleviation and military activity. Zakat was a religious duty, a form of compulsory tax, while sadaqa was voluntary. The more zakat given and sadaqa donated, the larger the pool. However, the quantum depends on the largesse of the community. A more selfish community, the less the donation. Cash can also be extracted from deposit accounts that are guaranteed by the banks. •
Father Arizmendi created the credit union, Caja Laboral, which evolved into a large bank. From the bank, investment and credit was disbursed. In Islamic finance, the banks do the same but profit and loss mechanisms such as mudaraba and musharaka need to be supported more. The central problem for PLS schemes is a lack of information. Customers do not know where their money is being invested in. However, if banks have greater linkages with the community, information can be spread further. The internet and social media provides the tool to link people to the activities of the bank. If the remit of the bank is to invest in socially beneficial commercial projects and local businesses, fewer people
Open Admission: The Prophet and the Shari’a legislated for all communities. There was no racial or national discrimination. Democratic Organisation. The creation of the Shura by the Prophet where members of the community would participate in developing policy was used by succeeding Khalifas. There were definitely democratic connotations especially as the Prophet sought views of his companions on a range of issues. Sovereignty of Labour. The Prophet had a keen sense of his community’s needs and desired that labourers should get paid according to the effort they put into a project. Capital as Instrument. Salam, as used in the Prophetic time, shows that capital was governed by labour. By paying before the product was created, it was to assist labourers with their cashflow. Self-Management. The mission of the Prophet focused on teaching his followers the right way of living. It was up to the companions to follow. He had less to say, if anything, about business organisation, but he understood the importance of training. The companions would train in archery and wrestling and preparation was a key to success. Pay Solidarity. The Prophet was acutely aware of disparity. His own life was a testament to ensuring that those in a higher position were not hoarding wealth and unwilling to distribute. Leaders have a responsibility to those under them, and the less the disparity, the closer the relationship. Inter-Cooperation. The Prophet cooperated with Muslims and Non-Muslims alike to benefit himself, his family and his community. If there was value in cooperation, the Prophet would strengthen those bonds. This could have been in commercial or political relationships. The expansive trade networks created between merchants following the death of the Prophet shows a community that wished to broaden relationships. Social Transformation. The Prophet’s mission was to transform society. The religion was supposed to have evolved from previous monotheistic religions. However, when evolution was forcibly countered, revolution was the next step. Universal Solidarity. The ties between the Ummah are expected to be strong. The Prophet loathed dissension in the community; and the disorders that followed the Prophet’s death were symptomatic of the break in community bonds. Education. Islamic society is notable for the importance it gave to seeking knowledge. This was a core value of the religion. The Prophet’s teacher was Allah; the Muslim’s teacher is the Prophet. Figure 3: The Mondragon Corporation principles
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will express discontent, and at the same time be aware of the flow of income. There will also be an inbuilt regulatory system of businesses in which banks invest. If businesses fail due to corruption or misapplication of funds, communities will be more aware and this would act as an incentive for businessmen not to transgress. Community censure can be a significant disincentive and has proven effective in smaller communities. Indeed communities have grown larger but with the improvement of communication technology there is a way of managing numbers and distances as connectivity is instantaneous both audibly and visually. Debt finance instruments such as qard have more value for personal finance (buying houses, conducting renovations, etc).
Industry and innovation •
Education and investment were two of the core pillars of the Mondragon Cooperation. The final pillar was industry. As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for the failure of cooperatives was the lack of innovation. Therefore, in Mondragon there was investment into research and development to build industry. While the historical Muslim world created impressive trade networks and established markets, it failed to embark on an industrial revolution. Today, the Muslim world has embarked on a course of industrialisation but more needs to be done in terms of investing in ideas for innovative products. In the so called golden age of Islam (7th -12th century) one must wonder whether more investment in ideas that were being discussed at that time on aerodynamics, pneumatics, hydraulics, etc, would have led to an industrial revolution. •
goes into banks and then used to invest in industry. Overall, internal relationships and external relations have to be strong. (Figure 4)
HORIZONTAL LINKAGES Figure 4: Vertical and Horizontal linkages
In pre-modern Islamic societies, artisan guilds ensured both vertical and horizontal relationships. The Ottoman Empire was renowned for the number of guilds in cities such as in Istanbul. They created a cooperative environment and helped individuals develop skills and prosper. Merchant guilds were also formed and this helped with long distance trade. Agentive relationships were strong, with agents responsible for their principal’s goods, travelling long distances and not reneging from their responsibilities.
grassroot organisations that provide purpose to communities, the community needs to create the schools and universities for spiritual and technical knowledge. From community funds, financial institutions are established to invest in industry and innovation. Profits from industry are then ploughed back into financial services and/or education and/or the community. There is interconnectivity and cooperation between all the institutions.
Today, there needs to be greater linkages between institutions in Muslim communities. Islamic financial institutions have to be linked to mosques, grassroot organisations, schools, universities, companies and social services such as
This blueprint taken from the experience of Mondragon is based on two assumptions: 1.) no government involvement; and 2.) the starting point is a blank canvass with no institutions present. With regards to the latter, institutions are already in place. Madrasas, universities, grassroot organisations, etc have been previously established. Islamic finance has done much in the last 40 years to create a worldwide industry but it needs to do more to connect and assist predominate Muslim communities build and improve the institutions that will benefit their locality. The weakest linkage is between the Islamic finance institutions and mosques and madrasas. Once there is greater connectivity, there will be an improvement of the Islamic finance proposition that accounts for both the spiritual and practical development of the Muslim community. This does not require a revolution but an evolution in thinking and practice.
The value and success of a cooperative depends on people working together for the benefit of their own society. It requires personal linkages as well as institutional linkages. The Mondragon Cooperation is made up of institutions that fall under four categories: Knowledge, Financial, Retail and Industrial. Within each institution there are vertical linkages and financial disparity is reduced between higher management and labour. Between institutions, there are horizontal linkages with institutions assisting the other in terms of helping those companies that are doing poorly and also investing in research and development. There are also overlaps. For instance, schools will create labour who will work in retail that will pay their salaries which
healthcare. Figure 5 shows the potential linkages between institutions that need to be created. Starting from the mosque and
Figure 5: Creating the institutions
Lycamobile was founded by the Chairman Subaskaran Allirajah and Milind Kangle from their joint passion to keep our growing international community talking.
C o m pa n y P r o f i l e
The Subaskaran Allirajah
Group Chairman and Founder of Lycamobile
Group Chief Executive and Co- Founder of Lycamobile
Families are built on sharing. Sharing adventures, experiences, successes and struggles is something that no family should be denied, wherever they are.
any of us now may find ourselves in a ‘Global Family’: families travelling for Ramadan, relatives moving abroad and long-term job commitments taking us from city to city means that we are now relying on technology more than ever to keep our families together. We can’t depend on seeing each other once a day, week or even from month to month: we’re now having our own adventures, either together or apart and we’re having them across the world. To stay connected, family conversations are happening across oceans rather than dinner tables. But unfortunately, talk isn’t always cheap. With international call charges, the thirty minute catch up with your roving relative can end up costing more than a family’s weekly grocery shopping. People want more affordable services that allow them to make quality and frequent international calls and texts from their mobile phones. Families often keep in daily contact with loved ones around the world, but resent the inconvenience of being tethered to their landlines and webcams, or having to fumble for international calling cards that can provide spotty connections. Horror stories of astronomical international call charges are putting regular family contact at risk. For
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example, a 30 minute call from UK to Pakistan can cost as much as £1.54 per minute on some mobile networks. Therefore, it is no wonder that more and more international families are turning to Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO) which specialise in cheap international calls from mobiles. Incredibly popular with expatriate customers contacting their loved ones, these pay-as-you-go models have become staple tools for families and communities to maintain close relationships despite living across continents. Lycamobile, the global leader for low cost international mobile calls is the largest provider of this service and has been committed to keeping friends and families together at a low cost since its launch in 2006. It now operates with a team of 4,000 staff over 15 countries and is expected to reach a turnover target of €1billion by the end of 2012. “This is a lifeline service”, explains Lycamobile CEO, Milind Kangle. “Relationships aren’t maintained across continents with scheduled calls from a landline or an internet service; they are instant and focus on the now, the gossip you just discovered, the news you can’t wait to share and the advice on which shoes to pack in an already overfilled suitcase.”
The company is committed to its role in maintaining family values, holding several events such as Lycamobile International day last summer and Festi Ramazan in Dortmund. In addition, Allirajah’s Gnanam Foundation supports families without any income by providing them with the necessary equipment or tools to start their own businesses. The Gnanam Foundation works closely with rural women’s forums to provide the essential support to a vast number of widows so they can care for their families. “The business is deep rooted with strong family connections” said Allirajah. “As a proud father of three boys, and the chairman of an international company, it’s more important than ever that I get to speak to my family regularly. This is why we developed Lycamobile.” Both Allirajah and Kangle have led the brand to success as Europe’s largest international calling MVNO enabling 20 million customers across Europe and Australia make affordable international and national calls and SMS to their families. The key is in its simplicity: no long access codes or PIN numbers to baffle your overseas adventurers, making staying in touch easier and cheaper. “We know that keeping large families talking is sometimes a difficult task” says Kangle, “our job is to make it as easy as possible for everyone to pick up the phone and share their lives with the ones they love and cherish.” That is why the Lycaworld global on-net service provides a substantially reduced tariff offering Lycamobile to Lycamobile calls to keep everyone within the Lycamobile world connected. Pre-paid top-up vouchers are available in over 750,000 points of sale across UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Australia, France, Germany, Poland, Ireland and Portugal. “At Lycamobile, we provide something beyond cheap international phone calls; we give people the chance to stay in touch with their near and dear ones. We don’t provide calls, we provide the tools to build and maintain close networks of friends and families across the world.” Find out more on www.lycamobile.co.uk
Islamic Finance in Libya: Opportunities During Transition The aftermath of the Libyan revolution presents significant opportunities for policy makers in the country to create stronger political and financial institutions. In this transitional environment, many Libyans have called for Islamic banking services to be offered. Layla ElWafi and Assad Riyany discuss the Libyan financial landscape and the prospects for Islamic finance in the country.
here is no doubt that Libya is a country in transition and renewal.
Following the popular uprising in February 2011, the multitude of large billboards and posters featuring Colonel Gaddafi, Libya's dictator of 42 years, have been replaced with photos of candidates taking part in the first free elections in decades and messages of national reconciliation. After decades of isolation under Gaddafi's autocratic rule, the Libyan market re-opened in 1999 following the normalisation of diplomatic relations and the suspension of UN and EU sanctions against Libya. From this time the former regime pursued a haphazard investment plan to rebuild or put in place much needed infrastructure in numerous sectors including oil/gas, social housing and commercial building, transportation, water/desalination, health, education, telecommunications and tourism. With Africa's largest proven oil reserves, Libya exports almost 70% of its oil production to the EU primarily through a direct pipeline to Italy. The Gaddafi regime had claimed of plans to diversify the economy and promote other sectors such as tourism and finance but in reality these claims remained just that. Today, Libya is experiencing a sensitive transitional period in which a new democratic political system is expected to emerge. The democratically elected General National Council (Libya’s interim parliament) is expected to select a new government by the end of October. It is widely expected that the new administration will carry forward many fundamental reforms to all aspects of public life. Since the appointment of the new governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) – Saddek El Kabeer – reform of the banking and finance sector in Libya has
gathered momentum. The banking and finance sector in Libya suffered a great deal of neglect under the old regime as it was reduced to a basic system that contributed very little to the economic development of Libya’s economy. As a result, the CBL is in the process of conducting an extensive review of all banking laws with the aim of implementing international standards and making Libyan banks a major contributor to the large scale development needed in Libya. These reviews are conducted in cooperation with international agencies such as the World Bank. The introduction of Islamic finance in Libya is gathering momentum as Libya’s conservative Muslim society looks for alternatives to interest-based conventional banking.
Banking practice and culture Under Gaddafi's rule, Libya's banking system was dominated by a handful of state-owned institutions tightly controlled by the regime. Libya’s economy was always a cash based economy where most Libyans did not use credit cards and their banking practices were largely limited to cash deposits and withdrawals. Due to the former regime’s chronic inability to diversify the economy away from the oil and gas sectors, Libyan fiscal policy continues to be dominated by oil revenues generated to support the huge burden of the bloated civil service and the extensive subsidy system. Despite all of these problems Libya’s macroeconomic position remains strong and should continue to be so in the medium term, largely of course because of the high international price for Libya’s crude oil and the recent discovery of natural gas reserves which has yet to be fully exploited. Large commercial Libyan banks were owned by the state until 2005 when the Libyan government decided to sell two large state
owned banks (Al Sahari Bank and Al Wahda Bank) to private investors. However by 2006 it became clear that the divestment of these two banks was not successful and the CBL switched its focus to exploring the possibility of allowing foreign banks to buy into Al Sahari and Al Wahda banks. After an auction process BNP Paribas acquired 19.5% of Al Sahari Bank and Arab Bank acquired 19.5 % of Al Wahda Bank. In 2010 the CBL ran an auction to grant the first banking license to a foreign bank. The auction was won by Unicredit, which gave it the right to open subsidiaries in Libya.
Current status of Islamic finance and future prospects Under the previous regime there was not much activity in Libya by way of Islamic finance because of fears that the government would lose its control over banking regulation to the religious establishment and encourage political dissent. However due to increasing domestic demand post-revolution, the activity of Libyan-owned banks in the Gulf (for example Arab Banking Corporation) where Islamic finance is more prevalent and the increased investment by Gulf banks in Libya, together with recent measures taken by the CBL to promote Islamic banking, the industry is set to grow. In May 2012 a new Islamic banking law was approved to facilitate the development of Islamic finance in Libya and it is expected to be implemented by the end of this year. Earlier in the year the Libyan government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to establish a framework of cooperation and exchanges. To date this has included a visit by representatives from the IDB's Islamic
At a recent conference of Arab central bankers in Kuwait, the CBL Governor Saddek El Kabeer told reporters of the high demand for Islamic finance in Libya and the CBL's efforts to set up a "road map" to facilitate its operations. “The demand is so high in Libya so we set up a higher committee for Islamic finance… now they are working to set up a road map for Islamic finance in Libya,” he said. He also reiterated that the authorities envisaged several options for Islamic banking services. One would be to allow conventional banks to open Islamic branches or 'windows' and another would be to permit conventional banks to become Islamic. The CBL is also considering the introduction of a special licence for Islamic banking. The licensing options are still under discussion because authorities have yet to agree on capital requirements. While Islamic finance experts do not expect the entire Libyan financial system to become fully Shari'a-compliant, they agree that the opportunities for consultants, training firms and banks which specialise in Islamic banking are plentiful in a country which has huge oil wealth and holds tens of billions of dollars in offshore assets. The country’s main sovereign state fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, is worth an estimated US$65 to $70 billion. Local banks have already taken steps to meet the rise in demand for Islamic finance. For example Gumhouria Bank (Libya’s largest commercial bank) has opened a number of branches that offer Shari'a-compliant products and is in the process of introducing new Islamic products to their clients (currently they are only offering murabaha products). Even before the change in the political regime, Islamic banks had been taking an interest
“While IF experts do not expect the entire Libyan financial system to become fully Shari'a-compliant, they agree that the opportunities for consultants, training firms and banks which specialise in Islamic banking are plentiful in a country which has huge oil wealth and holds tens of billions of dollars in offshore assets.” Corporation for Insurance of Investments and Export Credits to help develop Libya's private sector and local expertise in exports. In August the CBL, in cooperation with the IDB, facilitated the first in a series of Islamic banking workshops to explore the financing of small and medium sized enterprises and establish strategic partnerships between various stakeholders including commercial banks, governments and NGOs.
in Libya. The CBL held meetings on Shari'acompliant finance under the previous regime, although nothing materialised at that time. Today, offering Islamic financial services in Libya is high on the agenda for many Shari'acompliant banks, particularly those based in the Arabian Gulf. Common language and, to a degree, culture, would help, as would the familiarity of banks in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE with arranging sukuk, helping manage oil wealth, and organising
project finance. As Libya’s Islamic finance sector grows there will be opportunities beyond banking. Libya has a relatively narrow set of technocrats and bankers with experience of international finance, let alone Islamic banking. This means that CBL will have to rely on foreign advisors and Islamic scholars to help set up the new system and monitor its development. This will be sufficient as a short term measure to launch Islamic finance in Libya; however, in the longer term, and in order to build a strong and vibrant sector, the country will need to educate and train local professionals and build national capacity.
Conclusion Despite the current political and security challenges, there are many opportunities for business in Libya, especially for financial institutions. We believe that reform of the banking and finance sector will continue to be a priority for the CBL, which has already taken major steps towards pushing the Libyan banking sector into the 21st century to make it a positive contributor to the development of the new Libya. Islamic finance in Libya is most certainly a growth sector and given London's role in Islamic banking and finance it will likely be a key player in this development. In order to mitigate the risks and reap the rewards of doing business in Libya, an appreciation of laws including interim provisions as well as international tax, investment laws and treaties is required. Investors should not be put off but should seek specialised advice and guidance.
Layla El-Wafi is an Associate at Addleshaw Goddard LLP in London specialising in banking. She has an active role in the firm's MENA business development team advising on trips and transactions with a focus on Libya.
Assad Riyany is the Head of Treasury Sales at ABC International Bank-London which is the European subsidiary of the Arab Banking Corporation Group. He has extensive knowledge of Libyan financial institutions through his work covering the Libyan market for the past ten years as well as his position as a board member in one of Libya ’s commercial banks.
BUSINESS TRAVELLERS CATCH ON TO NEW COST SAVVY ROAMING SERVICE
ith the number of overseas business visits on the rise, more travellers are becoming technology-savvy and are taking advantage of the reduced call costs on offer. Since the launch of its new international SIM card at the beginning of 2012, toggle mobile has seen an increasing number of business and leisure travellers switch their network to save up to 90% on their roaming costs. A total of 6.8 million international business trips were made by UK residents at the beginning of 2012 – a rise of three per cent from 2011, according to the Office for National Statistics. The Chief Executive of Lycamobile, the innovative company behind the new travel SIM card, believes some businessmen and women are still being hit unnecessarily by large phone bills on their return to the UK. “As an international company, I travel overseas all the time and I unfortunately know too well how expensive using your mobile phone abroad can be. This is why we developed toggle mobile in the first place,” said Chief Executive Milind Kangle. “There are a lot of benefits that business travellers can take advantage of including free
incoming calls in over 100 countries and international calls from just four pence a minute.” Toggle mobile customers can also register for up to nine local numbers which work simultaneously in the same SIM card. The local numbers enable travellers to make both regional and international calls at the most competitive rates. “When you’re flying to Germany for a business meeting, the last thing you want to have on your mind is whether or not you can afford to take the call from your office back in the UK or how much it will cost to call your business contacts in Germany. The local number removes this worry as calls from the UK can be received for free plus calls within Germany are charged at a local rate of just 15 pence per minute. Your German business contacts will also welcome the local number as it means less cost to them,” said Mr Kangle. Customers can register for a local number in all of the countries in the toggle mobile network including France, Germany, Spain, Australia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden with USA, Canada, Ireland, Portugal and Italy coming soon. Internet and email users can benefit from the low international data roaming charges from just 15 pence per MB. This compares favourably
to all of its mainstream competitors such as O2 from £3 per MB within the EU and £6 per MB outside the EU; Vodafone from £1 per MB for the first 5MB within the EU and £3 for each MB up to 5MB outside the EU; and Orange from £3 per MB within the EU and £8 per MB outside the EU. “Before launching toggle mobile, we anticipated a few people being put off by the perceived hassle of changing their mobile provider but we have been proved wrong. A lot of our customers are keen to use their new SIM card alongside their existing contracts until it can be terminated and others already know it is not as complicated as it first appears to keep their existing number,” said Mr Kangle. Customers wanting to keep their current UK mobile number simply need to contact their provider and request the PAC code which can then be given to toggle mobile who will do the work for you. Calls to customer services are free from a toggle mobile and customers can top up their mobile phone by going online to www.togglemobile. com. Earlier this year toggle mobile, welcomed the European Parliament vote to reduce mobile phone data roaming charges from July 2012 by
Toggle mobile has seen an increasing number of business and leisure travellers switch to its network to save up to
90% on their roaming costs
imposing strict price caps. However, with the major changes not being implemented until 2014, some phone users will not see the full benefit for some time. “High mobile data roaming charges is something travellers have accepted for far too long. Consumers are charged exorbitant prices for using their mobile phone abroad and we are delighted that the EU has finally agreed to go even further than its previous regulatory efforts to protect mobile users,” said Chris Liveing, Group Marketing Director for toggle mobile. “We encourage consumers to be savvy, think about how they will tackle the issue in advance of their travels and check the small print. Our research prior to launching toggle mobile was not all deals are what they are cracked up to be, something we have looked to address by simplifying our tariff across our network so one rate applies to all and providing the best value for customers.” For further information on toggle mobile visit www.togglemobile.com.
Keynes and the
‘Innocence of Muslims’
In light of the YouTube trailer for ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the “clash of civilisations” theory has been dredged up once again. Both sides fail to appreciate the values of the other but there is a way of harmonising the relationship, and there is a role that Islamic finance can play. To argue this point, Rizwan Rahman uses the works of John Maynard Keynes to show that Islamic finance has the tools to shift opinions but it all depends on efficiency, profitability and maintaining the bonds of brotherhood.
or many in the west, Muslim reaction to the pitiful YouTube trailer, ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ was shocking. The wanton violence occurring in Egypt, Libya, Sudan and Pakistan conveyed primitive behaviour, unrestrained by rationality and fuelled by zealotry. Their opinion was that the video did not justify the casual destruction of mostly American institutions and the protests showed a backwardness in thinking. On the other side, many Muslims felt that while the protests occasionally overstepped the boundaries of dignity and decency, it nevertheless reflected the esteem by which the global Muslim population held the Prophet (pbuh). It also conveyed their irritation to the West’s approbation of unrestrained freedom of speech. For the Muslims, it was
shocking that the mockery of such a holy figure could be allowed in Western society, and served to show the moral degeneracy the West had succumbed to. In consequence, as with ‘The Satanic Verses’ and the Danish cartoon incidents, the debate revolved around a clash of values. Unfortunately both sides failed to understand the other’s point of view. The film was a cause of this clash, but it was not the underlying basis for the tensions between the two opposing parties. The Muslims shake their heads in amazement that so little in the West is not substance for mockery and satire, and the Prophet (pbuh) is considered no different to King Henry VIII or David Cameron as a target for insult. While the film was roundly condemned and criticised for its obvious intent to provoke camps by
mocking the Prophet (pbuh), very few in the west would have argued that the producers should not have the right to create the film. Freedom of speech is an embedded principle in any western democracy. What is more, this same freedom resulted from throwing off the shackles of the Church’s power. To criticise and condemn the Church was a right that was fought for; no religious normative should gag this right, especially a foreign religion. Those who were surprised by the Muslim reaction fail to understand the importance of the Prophet to the lives of the Muslim. He is the one that gives the Muslim their identity in this world and a connection to the hereafter. To mock him is to mock personally and dehumanize the individual Muslim. Their honour and self-respect is violated. It also denudes the sacredness of Islam, and sacredness remains a cornerstone of this religion. Sacredness elevates a symbol over and above the banality of life. Derision lowers it. If sacred symbols are consistently caricatured then religion loses its importance and value in the lives of men - the current state of Christianity is a case in point. Failing to understand the importance of sacred symbols in a Muslim’s life creates this clash of values. For Muslims across the globe, to take to the streets to protest is a reflection of the powerful spirit that is embedded in believers. All differences were set aside, and for a week, Muslims were unified in spirit. Spirit, in this context, is a tribal-like commitment to an ideal, the ideal of Islam. The importance of the ideal gains strength in
situations where there is overt antagonism to the ideal. The ideal can be of many forms and is by no means limited to religion. As people in Greece, Spain and Portugal protest against the government’s austerity measures, their reaction is similar to the reaction of Muslims across the world. But they are protesting for another ideal, the ideal of financial security. In many respects, money making (be it for profit or for survival) and religious identity can motivate the best and the worst in people. Both can fuel ambition or instigate violence; both can unite or cause separation; both have the power of creating unique economic and political systems.
Religion, money-making, and capitalism The great economist John Maynard Keynes recognised the domineering influence that religion and money making can have on the individual. In two articles, “A short view of Russia’ and ‘ The end of laissez faire’ published in his compendium ‘ Essays in Persuasion’ Keynes explores the objectives of man, the challenges for capitalism and how it can be improved. He begins the former essay opining that Europe had managed to separate religion and spirituality into two compartments of the soul. By this he means that they were mutually exclusive and religion had lost its power in influencing the broad material desires of man. However, the growth of communism reflected a convergence of religion and money making in the soul. Keynes saw communism reflect religious traits. This worried Keynes. He feared
produces the greatest good for the greatest amount of people should intuitively be the system people follow. For Keynes, this was capitalism though it had its flaws. He writes: "Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system…Our problem is to work out a social organisation which shall be as efficient as possible without offending our notions of a satisfactory way of life" The reason why capitalism is considered the best system is because it aligns with the central tendency of human begins. Human beings are predisposed towards moneymaking. Keynes writes “…the moral problem of our age is concerned with the love of money, with the habitual appeal of the money motive in nine-tenths of the activities of life, with the universal striving after individual economic security as the prime objective of the endeavour, with the social approbation of money as the measure of constructive success,
“For modern capitalism is absolutely irreligious, without internal union, without much public spirit, often, though not always, mere congeries of possessors and pursuers. Such a system has to be immensely, not merely moderately, successful to survive.” that the religious fervour of communism would overpower capitalism as the dominant material ideology. To counter the onslaught of communism, capitalism had to be greatly more efficient than communism to convince people of its worth. As a utilitarian, Keynes believed that an economic system that
and with the social appeal to the hoarding instinct as the foundation of the necessary provision for the family and for the future” Thus, humans are predisposed to (a) ensuring economic security for themselves and their families; and (b) rising up the social hierarchy
which is measured by how much money one has, or rather how much they spend, with goods procured acting as symbols of their wealth. If the masses are naturally inclined towards making money then capitalism is the system that will suit their very aims. Keynes viewed the love of money as being a spiritual need, and capitalism serving it beneficially. In these essays, the pragmatist Keynes reveals a more esoteric disposition. He describes the essential characteristic of capitalism as the following: “…dependence upon an intense appeal to the money making and money loving instincts of individuals as the main motive force of the economic machine.” Therefore capitalism appealed to the basic tendency of the human being. Religion appealed to men’s souls but it was playing less of a role in their lives. It was failing to meet the material wants of human beings. He writes: “Most religions and most philosophers deprecate…a way of life mainly influenced by considerations of personal money profit. On the other hand, most men today reject ascetic notions and do not doubt the real advantages of wealth” However, the rise of communism appeared to combine money making and religion in the souls of man but in a quite nuanced way. As a religion, communism’s strength was that it "exalts the common man and makes him everything” with charismatic leaders fervently preaching to the masses of its potential to unite the people for the betterment of their welfare. Here the leaders of communism appeal to the money-making aspect of the soul arguing that a focus on individualistic money making – which capitalism encourages- is bad. As with all new religions, the socialist bedrock appeals more to the multitudes and rallies against what Keynes calls ‘egotistic atomism of the irreligious’. This makes religion particularly potent, even if its economic ideas are flawed. The strength of religion is its aggrandizement of the social bond; the weakness of capitalism is the failure to do so. In an intriguing passage, Keynes writes:
“For modern capitalism is absolutely irreligious, without internal union, without much public spirit, often, though not always, mere congeries of possessors and pursuers. Such a system has to be immensely, not merely moderately, successful to survive.”
“Since the early days of Islamic finance, prices of products have decreased but issues relating to the authenticity of the products and accusations of replication of conventional products follow the industry. Nevertheless, its growing popularity is more to do with the religious overtones that comfort the Shari’a sensitive consumer than with the value proposition it has to offer.”
Keynes therefore was looking for ways of improving the value of capitalism fearing people would otherwise be attracted to alternative ideologies. He appeared to view capitalism as the most efficient but devoid of public spirit. Religious movements, on the other hand, were characterised for their ability to bring together like-minded individuals for a common cause. To improve capitalism, Keynes argued for autonomous bodies and central institutions with consideration for the public good, to enter into the market where the individual or business fails to fulfil societal needs. To put it another way, he wished capitalistic societies to extract the public spirit imbued in religious movements.
Islamic finance: combining money making and religion The global Muslim outcry following the
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release of the YouTube trailer revealed the community spirit of the Muslims. There was no real leader but a belief in something outworldly and transcendent. Objectively, if there was anything positive that could be taken from the Muslim reaction, it was this cohesion. The video united and galvanised a global community. To harness this community spirit for the improved welfare of peoples around the world, Keynes felt would be potent. The question was whether a system which purported to do so would also be efficient. Keynes would have seen Islamic finance as uniting money making and religion in the same compartment of the soul. Proponents of Islamic finance would agree. Religious sensibilities were appealed to in creating the foundations of the Islamic finance industry. From the Organisation of Islamic Conference, conceived as an organisation that would bring together Muslim countries, came the Islamic Development Bank. When Islamic finance institutions sprung up, it had a limited product portfolio with many products being more expensive than its conventional counterpart. Yet, customers demanded as the products were vetted by Shari’a trained scholars so seen as being acceptable under the religion. Since the early days of Islamic finance, prices of products have decreased but issues relating to the authenticity of the products and accusations of replication of conventional products follow the industry. Nevertheless, its growing popularity is more to do with the religious overtones that comfort the Shari’a sensitive consumer than with the value proposition it has to offer. This, of course, may change over time. A fundamental criticism of Islamic finance, however, is that it is financially inefficient; that costs are higher for Islamic banks to create financial products that produce the same outcome as a conventional product. The industry is evolving and creating the facilities and institutions to solve efficiency problems. Rome was not built in a day and neither can we expect the Islamic finance industry to be perfected over the course of 20 years. The industry itself recognises that its success thus far has relied on the ‘Islamic’ element but with growing criticism of its failure to truly differentiate itself, the industry is attempting to improve. If in the long run, the industry fails to be more efficient than the conventional financial industry, then relying on the religious sensibilities of the Muslims will be misplaced. In this regard Keynes was quite prescient. Communism in the 1920s was a new and untested ideology but Keynes, possibly in disapproval of Marxist thought, regarded communism as being inefficient. Without the
revolutionary zeal, it would have dissolved quickly. The zeal and the institutions that were created ensured that communism lasted 70 years but in the end capitalism, being a more efficient system, triumphed. Today, China is one of the few communist states remaining, but its continuing growth owes itself to its capitalistic approach. Capitalism has therefore been far more resilient than its detractors would care to give it credit for precisely because it appeals to a basic tendency of the human soul. To compete more effectively, Islamic finance has to be more efficient, even if it currently unites money making and religion in the soul.
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Conclusion If nothing less, the Muslim protests conveyed a strong religious bond between the global Muslim population. Harnessed in the right way, this bond can be quite potent in improving the lives of many in society. Keynes understood public spirit as being a key ingredient to sustaining and making capitalism more efficient. However, he believed that capitalism was irreligious and individualistic and therefore individual money making behaviour could not be relied upon to sustain its existence. There needed to be the kind of public spirit internal to the system that one sees in religious movements. In the absence of religious influence, public institutions have to be created to incentivise and encourage public spirit. Islamic finance is a religious based economic system that unites two tendencies Keynes saw in the human soul: a penchant to make money and an adherence to a transcendent cause. A system which combines the two can be beneficial to society provided that it is also efficient i.e. it meets demand but at a low cost. The success of Islamic finance rests upon improving its efficiency as there is the potential that the religious spirit that created it and has thus far sustained it will gradually wither away. By doing so, a potential ancillary effect could be that the angry Muslim imagery portrayed in the media will be replaced by the conceptualisation from Islam that there are principles and techniques that can lead to a better society.
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Role of product
Development in Islamic
Financial Institutions The growth of the Islamic finance industry will depend on the effectiveness of institutions in creating the right product that meets consumer demand and adheres to the Shari’a. However, the process of creating the right product is complex. Irshad Ahmad Aijaz breaks down the product development process and the issues that teams structuring Islamic finance products face.
he subject of product development is very broad as it incorporates a variety of aspects. A particular issue is that due to the sophisticated, innovative and complex products in conventional finance, Islamic finance practitioners are under pressure to not only create products that fulfill needs of Shari’a sensitive investors but are also as competitive and efficient as the panoply of products in the conventional finance industry. Islamic financial institutions are commercial in nature and their intermediary role requires access to a range of products for managers to meet the demands of potential consumers. Irrespective of the complexity of the product, compliance to the guidelines and injunctions of Shari'a is a core principle and a basic feature of Islamic institutions that should be ensured in all situations. Failure to achieve this may result in reputation risk, jeopardizing the entire business of the Islamic financial institution. The product development function plays a pivotal role in Islamic financial institutions. A bank with a good product development team can present workable and competitive solutions to the market. A product manager is expected to bridge the gaps between theoretical requirements and practical applications of a specific Islamic mode of financing in order to create effective products and successful business solutions. The success of the product cannot be measured on the basis of business or operational feasibility only; all factors important to the creation of an Islamic product should be considered so that a solution, acceptable from economic and Shari’a standpoints, can be presented to the beneficiaries. Therefore, it is expected that an Islamic financial product must be developed with an Islamic orientation and growth
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objectives in mind.
Aspects of the product development process The classical product life cycle theory describes inception, growth, maturity and decline as four major parts of the life of a product. As compared to other phases of the life cycle of a product, the inception phase requires the most attention and scrutiny as development of the product is done in this phase. An Islamic financial product should be developed taking four major aspects into consideration in order to achieve a successful, practical and acceptable outcome. The product development team should consider all these prerequisites equally. These four aspects are: a.
b. Legal c.
d. Operational Success or failure of a product will result from one of these four points. We will consider each aspect separately. (Figure 1) Business: The product development team will have to consider the economic objectives of the Islamic financial institution in creating and distributing the product. They will also have to consider the economic consequences to the institution from both a profit and loss perspective. Attention has to be given to taxation, managerial incentives, product packaging, market focus, adverse and favorable selection, risk management, product administration and credit analysis. For business aspects of the product development process
excellent knowledge of the market, business affairs, prudential regulations, financial management, risks and customers' demand would be necessary. Legal: Consideration has to be given to regulatory requirements, general rules and regulation of business, and banking and financial laws in a country that affect the product directly or otherwise. The auditing, accounting and reporting requirements imposed by regulatory authorities, fall within the legal purview. The rules imposed by external agencies will place benchmarks on per party exposure limits, debt burden ratio, collateral requirements, and other aspects that reduce the risk exposure of financial institutions. The absence or ambiguity of a legal framework for Islamic products creates difficulties for a product manager in designing a product. If a contradictory situation emerges where a product structure that is developed according to Shari’a requirements is not accepted under the laws of land, then the status of such product becomes questionable. We see this problem in those legal systems where banks are not allowed to trade at all thereby causing problems for the Islamic banks that have to execute trade agreements with its customer. Bank ownership of assets such as houses is rarely allowed. Parallel documentation is therefore critical but needs the attention of scholars to resolve the obvious paradox. Shari’a: After determining the business needs and finding an appropriate mode of financing, the product manager will have to assess the possibility of mismatches between business and Shari’a requirements. One of the
key concerns is whether, operationally, the product is Shari’a compliant and maintains Shari’a compliance. A product should be developed through discussions between the bankers and the Shari’a scholars. In the creation of the product, use of controversial rulings for developing a product can attract
products are acceptable in theory but are not implemented properly because of operational flaws in the structure. As an example, running musharaka (a working capital product) suffers from operational flaws in the structure as its application is extremely difficult. The same is true for murabaha of fast moving
“The product development function plays a pivotal role in Islamic financial institutions. A bank with a good product development team can present workable and competitive solutions to the market. A product manager is expected to bridge the gaps between theoretical requirements and practical applications of a specific Islamic mode of financing in order to create effective products and successful business solutions.” a lot of criticism and create difficulties for Islamic institutions. Nevertheless, once the structure and the agreements underpinning the product have been approved, the product can be offered to customers and concerned departments of financial institutions should undertake an ex-post audit of the product. In the creation of Islamic products, there is extensive use of ancillary contracts in engineering and structuring of products. Supportive contracts like wakala (agency), wa'd (promise) and hiba (gift) are used for many purposes including management of risk, smoothening the return and delegation of bank’s role to an agent. There are concerns among Shari’a scholars about the manner in which these agreements are used, as some fear the contracts allow the creation of prohibited structures. The AAOIFI Shari’a standards serve as guiding principles on Shari’a matters but the designing of products developed with help of these standards may still require more attention towards legal and business issues. Operational: This relates to the practical application of a product. Leaving aside Shari’a concerns, many suggested structures of
Figure 1: Considerations for an Islamic finance product development team
goods, murabaha of JIT (just-in-time) based inventories, holding company structures and LME (London Metal Exchange) assets based on OTC transactions. All these transactions are operationally difficult and due care is required to assure Shari’a compliancy. We see many proposals for liquidity management products, capital market products, an Islamic benchmark and public debt instruments, which are not welcomed by the market due to operational and business reasons. However, by putting the product into the market, it will be far easier to ascertain operational and practical difficulties allowing improvement of the product structure.
Need for product development Good Islamic financial products can only be developed with improved product development skills. Conventional product development and structuring require excellence in business and legal understanding and knowledge of market behaviour and norms while Islamic financial product development also requires excellence in knowledge of Shari’a. Without having in depth knowledge of Shari’a prerequisites of products, a product can be excellent from a business perspective but very poor from a Shari’a viewpoint. On the other hand, a poorly developed product may cause a great deal of concern for the market because of its non-viability from a business perspective. A long term murabaha sukuk could not be marketed in a volatile market because of business reasons (the sukuk is non-negotiable). Similarly, many offshore banking products or off-market instruments could not be put into practice because of legal obstacles.
Conclusion Presenting “out of the box” solutions is the goal of financial engineering. Financially engineered structures are evaluated on Shari’a principles, and if they violate Shari’a principles then it would be impermissible to sell them. Products engineered and packaged, fulfilling all Shari'a prerequisites, are welcomed under Islamic financial principles. A way of financial engineering that attracts criticism from Shari’a circles is the excessive use of ancillary contracts to create a particular financial outcome similar to that of a prohibited conventional product. This is done with the purpose of copying a conventional product prohibited in nature (like cash settled trades) or to create links between independent financial contracts. Finally, product development is a sensitive and important job and a good product development team is an asset for Islamic financial institutions. Every Islamic financial institution should have an excellent team of product developers who have good knowledge of Shari’a and can bridge the gaps between business, Shari’a, legal and operational aspects of a product and can present more practical and Shari’a compliant products to the market. It is also important for Islamic banks and other financial institutions to bring radical reforms in their economic objectives. Financial engineering on the product level is what most of the Islamic financial institutions have done so far. There is a need to develop an innovative model of Islamic banking and finance, which should look different from its conventional counterpart, and indeed must employ a different approach to fulfilling financial needs of its customers and clients. In its previous issue, ISFIRE emphasised the role of ethics and morality in developing a distinct value proposition for Islamic banking and finance, and this is something the shareholders of Islamic financial institutions must consider if they want to further develop their businesses on a more sustainable basis.
Irshad Ahmad Aijaz is a Shari’a adviser and Member of the Shari’a Supervisory Board at BankIslami Pakistan Limited, a leading Islamic banking institution in Pakistan.
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visit each year. It is not Disneyland but that is 10 percent of the Kuwaiti population. We partnered with United Entertainment & Tourism Company (UETC) and have plans to develop a chain of ‘THE 99’ Village theme parks throughout the GCC.
You travel extensively around the world. Where is home for you?
In the Imaginarium of
Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa
Creativity inspired by Islam is not typically associated with today’s Muslim world. Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa is a pioneer in changing this conceptualization. His comic book creation, ‘THE 99’, is a superhero ensemble similar to Western based comics such as X-Men, but is sourced from Islamic history and values. In a wide ranging interview, we discuss with Dr. Al-Mutawa his ideas and his opinions. What is revealed is a man with a deep compassion for humanity and Islam. In a time of much strife and turmoil associated with Islam, his creativity and commercial progress is a source of inspiration for potential Muslim entrepreneurs. Please tell us a little bit about your background.
At first it was just a comic book but is now also an animated series.
I was born and raised in Kuwait, but undertook my higher education studies in the USA. I earned an undergraduate degree from Tufts University where I triple majored in Clinical Psychology, English Literature and History. I then completed an MA and PhD in Clinical Psychology at Long Island University, and an MA in Organizational Psychology. After that, I trained as a clinical psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York, working with survivors of political torture. I then decided to take a break and undertook a MBA at Columbia University. It was around this time that I created ‘THE 99’.
What is Teshkeel Media Group? Teshkeel Media Group is a developer of comic books, magazines and other forms of children’s entertainment in print, film and television media. I am the CEO and we are based in Kuwait with offices in New York and Cairo. Originally Teshkeel Media Group was focused on more than ‘THE 99’. ‘THE 99’ is how we started but we also translated popular comics into Arabic including Marvel, DC and Archie, but there was no business there. Teshkeel also bought Cracked Magazine which was sold
My children grow up in Kuwait and attend summer camp in New Hampshire, which is where I used to go as a child. We used to live in the USA but one reason for moving back to Kuwait was because of 9/11. I did not want my children to hear cruel comments children are notorious for dishing out. Children can be mean, they will pick on anything. Hence, my family resides in Kuwait; most of the time I am on a plane somewhere! I hate leaving my wife and kids but at the same time I need to do it. It is the irony of my work and one thing that I struggle with. I am out there trying to make the world a better place for children everywhere and yet I have to leave my kids to do it. I suppose thats just the human condition.
At the Presidential Summit for Entrepreneurship in 2010, President Obama said your “comic books have captured the imagination of so many young people with superheroes that embody the teachings and tolerance of Islam”. Tell us how it felt to be personally mentioned by the President?
a few years after acquisition. Now we focus just on ‘THE 99’ with funding concentrated solely on the project. Maybe we will expand in the future. Our core team is made up of 20 people but there are hundreds of people around the world working on the comics and the animated series. We have writers, voice actors, animators, artists and other staff. We have writers who understand the market and the psychology of the readers. The stories are written by the writers of Batman, Star Wars, Ben 10 and other popular television shows. We have also created a theme park based on ‘THE 99’. ‘THE 99’ Village was launched in Jahra, Kuwait four years ago. 300,000 bisitors
When the President of the most powerful country in the world says that you are doing a good job, it’s a pretty cool thing. On top of that, I am somebody who plans every minute of every day. If you look at my schedule, the finer details are all mapped out. However, that was unscheduled. I could not protect against it. No one told me it was going to happen but it felt good because I was being recognized. It is like when you do well in school you get a smiley face; that was like getting five smiley faces!
Was your profile raised by being mentioned by President Obama? Certainly but it was both positive and negative. Growing up my mother used say, “Be careful who you make friends with because you are going to inherit their enemies,” and that is exactly what happened. President Obama’s endorsement meant that the whole world knew about our work. That was an amazing thing - I would not trade that for anything in the world - but it also brought out the woodwork the Islam haters. We started getting attacked in America. The US was the first market to buy our animated series which is unheard of. Then the broadcaster got the jitters; they started delaying broadcast of the series for fear of criticism from the right wing. We thought they were being silly but then when All American Muslim was screened, the reality show based around five Muslim families, it too was attacked by the same people who had attacked us. Major advertisers pulled their money from that show so our broadcaster felt vindicated for pulling out of our show.
Evidently there is a group of people in America who are identifying Islam and Muslims with terrorism and militancy. Senator Michele Bachmann recently suggested there is a Muslim brotherhood influence in the White House. Is there a deep seated fear of Islam in the USA? Michele Bachmann is doing nothing different from what Joe McCarthy did in the 1950s with communism. It is fear mongering and bigotry. There is a great report by the Centre for American Progress called ‘Fear Incorporated’. In it, it is revealed that 7 American foundations have given $42 million over 10 years to 5 misinformation experts - all of whom I am proud to say have come after me. These five feed what the Report calls an Islamaphobic echo chamber, which consist of politicians, including Michele Bachmann,
media, grassroot organizations and the religious right. These people pretty much get paid to propagate lies and drum up contempt for Islam. The fear is not deep seated but the perceptions of certain people in American society have undoubtedly been affected. At the same time, it would be wrong to assume that this kind of fear mongering is limited to the USA. Just look at the problems Christians are facing in Pakistan, or consider the Kuwaiti MP who has avowed to destroy all churches in Kuwait. This is all what I call chimpanzee politics. When chimpanzees fight, they fight over territory and they will systematically hold down and beat a member of the other group of chimpanzees in order to take over their land. We do that too, though our brain is more evolved so we do it on an intellectual level as well. It doesn’t mean we are less violent. Religious extremists use religion as a battering ram against those of a different religion, hitting them over the head bellowing that my religion is better than your religion.
What is ‘THE 99’? ‘THE 99’ is the first group of superheroes born of an Islamic archetype whose values are inspired by the Quran. I went back to the Quran for human messages that are reflected through superheroes. For over a hundred years Hollywood has used the Bible as a source for their storylines. Nobody has done that with the Quran. The Bible is known as the greatest story ever told because they are in sync with the way people like to think. The success has been repackaging these stories
to suit a new generation, so not only are they exciting and dynamic, they are very familiar. A billion people have gone to Sunday school and appreciate the Bible and know the stories. If you look at well known superheroes, they came out of North America and are based on Judeo-Christian archetypes. Like many of the Prophets, superheroes are missing parents. Superman’s parents die on Krypton. Batman’s parents die when he was a child. Spiderman is raised by his aunt and uncle. Most of them, like the prophets, had a message delivered to them from above by a messenger. The Prophets received the message from God through Gabriel. Peter Parker is taking photographs when a spider comes from above and gives his message through a bite. Superman is sent from another planet (or the heavens) by his parents to new parents in a spaceship like Moses on the Nile. You also hear the voice of his father to Earth, “I have sent to you my only son.” It is similar to the voice of God in the Bible about Jesus. But the superhero story lines are not religious. You know when Uncle Ben says to Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility,” is that a Christian message? Is it a Jewish message or a Buddhist message or a Muslim message? It is all of the above as at its heart, it is a human message. I simply took religious values from the Quran and stories from Muslim history, secularized them and created positive stories for the whole world. For example, our main bad guy, Rughal, in the story line represents a kind of dictatorial leadership. His name comes from the leader of the army of Abraha, the king of Ethiopia who in the Year of the Elephant-the year that the Prophet (pbuh) was born-came to destroy the Kaba. His name was Abu Rughal. According to the Quran, Allah sent an army of birds who pelted the elephants on their heads with stones, killing them. ‘THE 99’ gain their powers from stones which help them stop Rughal.
What is it about Islamic history and culture that inspires you? When I was growing up, I was taught about the Dar al-Hikma library in Baghdad, the greatest library the world ever knew. It was an inspiring story, one that highlighted Islam’s intellectual heritage. What began to upset me was I was seeing today’s Muslims constantly looking back. It is now a case of what Islam was and not what Islam is. I want Islam is and not just have the past eulogized. In ‘THE 99’, I used the stories that were passed down from generation to generation as the source of the messages that I wished to convey. History tells us that in 1258 the Mongols invaded Baghdad. All the books in the Dar al-Hikma library
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were thrown into the Tigris River and the river turned black from the ink of the books. I rewrote that. In my version, the librarians knew of the oncoming Mongol hoard and wanted to protect the books. They create 99 stones and produce a chemical solution called Kings Water. The librarians escape, dip these stones into the river with the Kings Water and suck up all the information that they had thought was lost to civilization. The stones are then taken to Andalusia where they ornament the ceilings of a fortress called Husn al-Marifa. Unfortunately, due to the hubris of the bad guy, Rughal, the fortress is destroyed around the time Christopher Columbus set sail for America. The stones are collected from the wreckage and spread out across the world. They were too powerful to keep in one place. The message here is that it is harmful for a minority to control the interpretation of Islam, but we do not explicitly state this. Also, all these stones have self updating mechanisms in them. Rughal does not want the stones to update past the 13th century which is when they were made so when he convinces ‘THE 99’ that he is the good guy, he gives all of them the same uniform. They look identical. He controls them by controlling the knowledge they have. On the other hand, Dr. Ramzi, the paternal guiding figure, reveals to them that each of their stones actually have a blue print for a uniform which is unique to them. The stones also update. Dr. Ramzi is a leader not a ruler. He is not threatened by ‘THE 99’ being stronger than him or smarter than him. They have competing leaderships: one is rigid, narrow and determined according to the whims of a single individual. The other is democratic, expansive and flexible.
What other messages are you trying to convey through ’THE 99’? What is it about entertainment that makes it easier to convey these messages? In the world of ‘THE 99’ it doesn’t matter what religion you are; it doesn’t matter what country you are from; it doesn’t matter if you are boy or girl; if you are a girl it doesn’t matter if you are covered or not; what matters is what you have to contribute to the society today. So they are from 99 countries and have different cultural backgrounds. They have 99 different powers. In each episode, the characters have to negotiate and combine their powers to solve a problem. They have to navigate their differences to achieve this. For example, in Issue 10, Jabbar, the Saudi character, gets upset with Widad, the Filipino character; not because he is presumably Muslim or she is presumably Christian; not because he is a boy and she is a girl; not because he is Saudi and
she is Filipino, but because he wants to use his power of muscles to solve the problem and she wants to use her power of love. And he gets upset. So we navigate differences, multiculturalism and diversity in an indirect way and I think entertainment allows you to do that. It’s not real so you get people in a very neutral setting learning new things vicariously.
The story behind the creation of ‘THE 99’ is an interesting one. Please take us through it. The idea came to me in a taxi cab going towards Harrods in London in the summer of 2003. I have always been a keen writer. When I was 9 years old, I told my parents I wanted to be a writer and they said it is a great hobby but not a profession. I always wrote on the side. But at the age of 32, I sat in a cab in London with a number of degrees to my name and without a clear understanding of what I really wanted do in my life. My sister wanted me to go back to writing for kids. I dismissed her. For me to undertake such a task, it would have to have the potential of Pokeman otherwise it would not make any sense. That wasn’t me saying I could create a Pokeman-type story; that was me just trying to shut her up! And she shut up. But as the taxi drove down the narrow streets of London to Harrods, I started to ponder and a series
of connected thoughts rushed through my mind. It started with Pokeman. I recalled a fatwa against Pokeman. My next thought was my God what has happened to Islam and who is making these random decisions for
my children. I could not help but think how disappointed Allah must be. Then I began thinking about Allah. Allah has 99 attributes and by the time I arrived at Harrods, I had completed a full circle in thinking, returning to Pokeman and their 1000 attributes. I am sure that was not the intent of the fatwa! I then wrote the business plan, did the financials, wrote the first few stories and I went out to pitch the idea to investors. I started the comic book. We then launched the animated series globally. There is a documentary that came out in America on PBS and directed by Isaac Solotaroff called ‘WHAM! BAM! ISLAM!’ which is the story about the making of ‘THE 99’.
What challenges and obstacles have you faced in producing ‘THE 99’ and garnering interest? The first obstacle was myself. I was worried that if I started this, I would fail and then I would be known as the crazy guy who tried. People love calling psychologists crazy; it makes them feel better about themselves! When I raised the money, I didn’t precisely know what to do next. I had a business plan but the field was new to me. People were very skeptical about Islamic inspired superheroes, especially as it was 18 months after 9/11. So to start off, we bought the magazine ‘Cracked’, a comedy magazine, as a first step. It was a very famous magazine in the USA and I felt that it could act as bait to attract the kind of talent we needed to create ‘THE 99’. We brought it
out of bankruptcy and hired a team to run it which comprised of the former publisher, head of marketing and editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. They got to know me and saw that I didn’t have a religious objective in terms of what I wanted to do with ‘THE 99’. An Islamic bank, Unicorn Investment Bank (now known as Bank Al Khair) then came to us to be an investor in ‘THE 99’. Even though we were valued higher by other institutions, I made the decision to go with them as I wanted to get into the Saudi market. Unicorn loved our ideas for ‘THE 99’ but told us to get rid of 'Cracked' as it was considered non-Shari’a compliant. We sold the magazine but the team remained. The next challenge was breaking into America. Interestingly, the extreme fringe on the right wing in both America and ‘Islamica’, if I can call it that, have not agreed on anything except banning ‘THE 99’. Since Unicorn, we have had other investors including Dubai based Abraaj Capital and Kuwaiti, Bayan Investment Company. We also have the support of a few HNWIs.
Where has the animated series been launched? The series has been launched throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Right now, the animated series of ‘THE 99’ is on MBC, the largest Saudi satellite TV station in the world. It is also shown through Yahoo! Maktoob. ‘THE 99’ is shown in Turkey, throughout Asia through Cartoon Network and Australia through ABC. We sold it to broadcasters in South Africa, South America and Ireland. It has
not been sold to Britain, which is surprising as Endemol, who are based in the UK, is a producer of the show. They have been unable to gain any traction from UK broadcasters, nor from any country within mainland Europe.
What is the popularity of 99? Where is the most interest? The international media has definitely been supportive. We have been on the cover of Newsweek and the cover of Forbes and there have been countless articles written on us. The irony is that we did it without a cent being spent. We have done more to promote a more positive image of Islam than most governments have done with million dollar budgets. We have licenses to publish ‘THE 99’ in various languages and countries including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, France, Turkey and throughout the Arab world. That’s not us putting up the money, that’s somebody buying the rights from us. A bank in Kuwait recently bought the rights of ‘THE 99’ to create themed bank accounts and emblazoned ATM cards. The TV series has also been sold to global television broadcasters. However, in answer to your question, I cannot provide a definitive answer in terms of quantifiable information. But with anecdotal evidence, a lot can be said. There is a cute picture that was sent to me via email. It was of a classroom of hijabi girls from South Asia holding ‘THE 99’ comic with an approving, bearded headmaster. The good news was that they were all smiling; the bad news was that the comics were photocopies; there was zero revenue for us!
Do you agree with the assessment that a lot of your work is driven by a desire to reconcile the West with the East? I believe my work is primarily about reconciling the East with itself. It has repercussions on the West but without getting our own house in order, it will be difficult to move forward. I do not think that the East can be friends with anybody until it is at peace with itself. I worry that every time something terrible happens in the name of Islam, the media manipulates and projects a certain image of the religion and its people. Media does not just reflect reality, the media can create reality. The media that is out there shows that being Muslim means blowing things up and it gets confusing, especially for the new generation of Muslim children. Is Islam a religion of peace or a religion of war? A polarization occurs. I am a father of five young sons and I do not want Islam to be represented to them as a politicalised, militarised thing. My thesis is this. I can go back to the root from which the bad guys are basing their rhetoric and challenge them through cartoons, theme parks and animation. The Quran can inspire both peaceful accommodation and violent polarization. Clearly then the Quran is not the problem; it’s the person who is interpreting. I once gave a talk in Vancouver to 9000 educators and I asked the audience the question as to how many of them had read ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ by J.D. Salinger. Many people put their hands up. I then asked how many of them killed in the name of that book.
No one put their hand up –thank God! - and they laughed. When the laughter subsided, I said the question may appear stupid but in 1980, Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon with a copy of that book in his hand. He told police that it was the book that drove him to kill. So I ask: is it the book or the person that leads people to commit heinous acts?
Could you explain your point that the media does not just reflect reality, it can also create reality? If you repeatedly tell a child that he or she is stupid, they will start to believe they are stupid. Likewise, if the media portrays people as terrorists, some are going to accept this. The portrayal of African Americans on American television is a great case study for this phenomenon. In the 1970s, when Sesame Street introduced a normal black couple, the reaction was quick in Mississippi. They banned the show and it took a year of naming and shaming by the media for them to reverse their decision. In the 1980s, the Cosby Show was a milestone for US television and global television. You had an African-American family but race was never discussed. The father was a doctor, the mother was a lawyer. Prior to the Cosby Show, most depictions of black families on TV had been with the father holding a menial job and the mother staying at home. They may not have been married either. The Cosby Show turned this perception on its head. They were married and had 4 children, one of whom was in college showing what good parenting could lead to. Not only did the
programme change how white America saw black America but it also changed how black America saw itself. Now think about this. In the show 24, it had two bad white presidents, one of whom looked and acted like Richard Nixon during Watergate. The show had two good black presidents who were brothers and young, strong and ethical; generally people you admired. In 2008 America elected its first ever African American president. Now, did 24 put Obama in power? No. But did the positive portrayal help? Absolutely. So I think the media is a very powerful tool. If we keep reinforcing the negatives of a small percentage of Muslim population, it will be counterproductive. But if you start reflecting positives, people will gravitate towards that.
There is an ongoing debate regarding a clash between western values and Islamic values. As a person who was born and raised in the Islamic world and lived in the West, define the difference in values, if there are any, and whether these values can be reconciled? There are no differences in values. The bottom line is simply to be good to yourself and to those you interact with. ‘THE 99’ is based around the 99 attributes of Allah mentioned in the Quran but those are basic human values: generosity, wisdom, foresight, and mercy. Obviously only Allah has it at an absolute level. Human beings have it at a relative level. They are human attributes of decency. Even atheists don’t tell their kids make sure you lie three times a day. Those who are insecure in their religion need to see their religion mirrored in everybody for them to validate their own self. Those who cannot control themselves need to control the environment they are in to help control themselves. So it does not surprise me when vociferous, irate conservatives are exposed for their hypocrisy. It doesn’t surprise me when the Republican senator, who was for family values and against homosexuality, gets caught for soliciting sexual relations from a man in a toilet. The more you are against something the more likely it is something in yourself that you are trying to get rid of. So religious figures who continually forbid this or that action, they are speaking to themselves. They need the environment to reflect themselves because they are insecure in their faith. In ‘THE 99’ we never mentioned anyone’s religion. We don’t talk about religion at all. It is all about values. Non Muslims are then surprised when they read the comics. They
don’t see the ‘Islam’ in the comics as they believe in these values too. I respond to them by saying that is the point of the ‘THE 99’. These values are universal.
What do you think needs to be done to change the current condition of the Islamic world? Europe woke up when we went to sleep. One of the main reasons they woke up, I believe, is because finally the language they spoke in matched the language they thought in matched the language they wrote in. It was when Latin’s hold on Catholicism was broken that Europe witnessed a reformation. Translations allowed a broader interpretation of the holy text. There was a separation of church and state. Religion still remained an important part of people’s lives but it was not used to domineer over them. I think there needs to be a harmony between language and thoughts. 80 percent of Muslims pray in a language they do not understand. In such a situation, impressionable kids can be easily manipulated to do reprehensible acts. The popes of medieval Europe knew it best. They used to sell spots in heaven in exchange for cash. In the Arab world, we are still taught classical ’fusha’ Arabic in our schools. It is not the language that we speak at home creating a big disconnection. It kills creativity. Children at school have to write a creative writing piece, but in classical Arabic. It then becomes a memorization exercise and not a creative writing exercise. One of my sons came home with 5 words that he had to put into sentences. I didn’t know a single word and I am fluent in Arabic. I called my mother who taught philosophy in Arabic for 30 years and she knew 2 of the 5 words. If you kill the language, you kill the culture because if people begin to feel insecure in the language they are being taught in, and it is not being reinforced in their day to day lives, they will gravitate to other languages. Every Prophet came with a miracle. The Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) miracle was the language that the Quran came in because he came from a tribe that appreciated prose and poetry. But if our miracle is the language in which the Quran came in, and languages evolve, what do we do? Unfortunately what we did was to come up with rules to keep the language from evolving with society. That doesn’t work. I am not saying ‘fusha’ classical Arabic needs to be discarded. We need people to understand and teach the language otherwise a limited number of people will have control over its interpretation but we do need to re-think the role of language in religion and I think that’s where the Muslims have to start from in order to improve their
condition. The reformation in Europe really took off in the 15th Century AD. Today, the Muslims are in their 15th Century Hijri.
In the Middle East, is creativity and Muslim entrepreneurship increasing or does much more need to be done? I don’t think you have shortage of creativity in the Middle East; you have a shortage of ecosystems to support the creativity. It is not valued as highly as other professions such as doctors or lawyers. It is similar to sports. For instance, football in Kuwait is not really invested in, whereas in Europe it is, and that is why Europe has better football teams. The value you place on a certain activity determines the importance it will have in society. In the Middle East, sweat equity – the effort put into starting up a business- is not valued. So for example, I get to keep most of this company without putting in a dime because it was my idea. This is a very western concept: support and finance the ideas of your entrepreneurs. One needs to value the idea holder more than the cash. Once you start doing that, and once the idea holders can end up owning more of the equity in the organization they create, you will see more organizations created. Most people in the Arab world would prefer to do a 9 to 5 job and make a salary than take a huge risk in starting something new. I was lucky enough to have done an MBA in the West and benefit financially from my ideas but most people are not that fortunate. People have come to me for advice in regards to keeping more of the equity of the company their ideas helped create. Since they don’t have the finances, they do not have enough of the equity. To ensure this occurs, there needs to be a shift in thinking in the Middle East about how we value our idea holders.
Finally, what is your opinion about the global Islamic finance industry? Some of it is unique; some of it is very much a case of different name, same outcome (as conventional finance). The packaging is very smart making the overall business quite lucrative. It is growing and it is popular around Kuwait but it needs to change some of its conceptualizations and structures. Crucially, if Islamic finance wants to breed entrepreneurs it needs to make room for different classes of shares and sweat equity.
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CONTACT Rob Hughes Phone: +01 212 401 8987 Email email@example.com Rizwan Malik Phone: +44 779 176 2047 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prudential Guidelines for Tawarruq Professor Humayon Dar It is important to highlight the role of circumvention in Islamic banking and finance, and differences with genuine innovation to provide alternative solutions in situations where choices are restricted due to explicit prohibitions. For example, the prohibition of interest implies disallowing a party A to receive a smaller sum of money from a party B in return for a greater sum to be paid by A to pay B on a later date. A solution to this case of restricted choice is tawarruq, whereby party B sells something of lesser value (say £90) for a deferred price of £100 to party A who then sells it in the market (to a third party C) for £90. This obviously does not attract any Shari'a objections at all, and may in fact be a preferred Shari'a option in some circumstances. It is important to emphasise that tawarruq in this simple form is not an example of innovation, as Shari'a allows its use and in fact recommends it to avoid riba (or the prohibited interest).
The solution comprises of the following elements: 1. The party A must buy (and indeed receive) the commodity from party B, on the basis of a deferred payment of price. 2. The money that party A receives must come from an independent third party C, and must not come directly or indirectly from party B. 3. The trading parties must not play any role for each other apart from buying and selling of the commodity. In other words, they must not serve as an agent for each other to buy or sell the commodity. 4. Tawarruq must not be organised by any of the parties involved in the transaction.
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For tawarruq to be considered as a Shari'a acceptable arrangement involving true sale, the requirements 1-4 must be observed; otherwise it may be seen as circumventing the Islamic prohibition of riba. Condition 1 is necessarily about possession. In order to ensure that tawarruq is not abused to circumvent riba, possession by the seller of the commodity and its transfer to the purchasing party must be made a strict Shari'a requirement; otherwise a series of trades will result in movement of cash only without any requirement of mobility of the commodity. Condition 2 does not imply that the credit seller (party B) is prevented from buying the commodity from someone whom party A later sells the commodity to on cash. Rather what it requires is that the credit seller must not supply cash directly or indirectly to the party seeking liquidity around the time of the credit sale. If he does so (whether it is with or without the sale of a commodity), the transaction would involve riba if the price in the credit sale is higher than the spot price. Here, the concept of a "spurious party" must be employed. In an organised three-party transaction, a party would be considered "spurious" if its involvement in the transaction makes an otherwise prohibited transaction seemingly valid. If in a transaction, a spurious third party is brought in to allow two transacting parties to exchange unequal amounts of money, the transaction would be considered to involve riba, even if the whole transaction is structured around (a series of ) commodity trades. Hence, although from a Shari'a viewpoint it is acceptable for a party B to buy a commodity from a party C on a spot basis, to sell it on
credit for a profit (higher price) to a party A who then sells it on spot to party C for a lower price, condition 2 above renders the whole transaction Shari'a repugnant. Although Shari'a allows for a commodity seller to serve as an agent for the buyer, in the context of tawarruq transactions the agency role for the seller must be ruled out because it will allow the buyer of the commodity to receive a smaller amount of cash from the seller (through the third party) today to return to him a higher amount of cash after some time - something akin to riba. Condition 3, therefore, is required to ensure that condition 2 is observed. It is not strictly required if nonobservance of condition 3 avoids violation of condition 2. Condition 4 is a weaker requirement, especially if the conditions 1-3 are already met. However, if some of the Shari'a scholars are reluctant to accept conditions 2 and 3, then condition 4 must be binding, and in this case it becomes the strongest requirement to prevent the incidence of riba in a transaction. From the above discussion, one may draw a principle, which for the ease of reference one may call as HD's Impossibility Principle, which states the following: "It is impossible for a trade-based transaction to involve riba if at least one of the above four conditions are fulfilled." The above mentioned four conditions may be considered as prudential guidelines for using tawarruq in contemporary practice of Islamic banking and finance. The HD's Impossibility Principle ensures that these prudential guidelines rule out circumventing Islamic prohibitions in banking and finance transactions.
Global Islamic Finance Awards
“Complimenting your efforts, celebrating your success” The ﬁrst truly global awards in Islamic banking and ﬁnance, based on an objective proprietary selection methodology. First award ceremony took place at the Oman Islamic Economic Forum held in Muscat, Oman on the 17th and 18th of December 2011. Second award ceremony will take place at the Asian Finance Forum to be held in Kuala Lumpur on the 19th and 20th of November 2012.
What was your earliest ambition?
In what place are you happiest?
To be a rock star.
Home with my children.
What kind of education did you have when you were growing up?
Your most wanted possession?
I went to a Catholic school, then a boarding school for girls then to university in England.
Who was your mentor? My father. He was an extremely disciplined person, highly principled and committed to the family.
How physically fit are you? I would say I am rather fit. I love the outdoors and enjoy, in particular, hiking and rock climbing.
For nominations, please visit www.edbizconsulting.com
Ambition or talent: which matters more to success? Both. I believe you are more likely to succeed and excel in something which you have a flair for.
What is the future of the Islamic financial services industry?
What ambitions do you still have? To continue the development of the industry, to build a sustainable business, to groom talent to take on the cause and to put Islamic finance on the world map.
What drives you on? My children and a hope for a safe and better tomorrow for them.
What is the greatest achievement of your life so far? Giving birth to 3 beautiful girls (naturally!) and my transformation into an Islamic banker (which is still work in progress).
What has been your greatest disappointment? None worth mentioning.
Bright. In sha Allah. There is much going on for the industry, though greater cohesiveness amongst proponents and unrelenting in challenging the norm is needed to keep it going.
If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?
How committed you are to Islamic finance?
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
Very. I hope to be able to contribute positively to the industry.
For nominations and other related information, please email; Rizwan Malik on email@example.com or call on (0044) 7791762047
Thank heavens she ditched the motorcycle and guitar!
10. I am blessed.
of the Qur’an and Sunna.
at the Crossroads
Islamic finance can only truly succeed if it encompasses all segments of society. Failure to offer robust services to the poor in order to help them climb out of poverty will bode unfavourably for the intents and purposes of Islamic finance. In this new section of ISFIRE, we explore the contribution of Islamic finance to poverty alleviation and social responsibility. Dr. Mohammed Kroessin assesses Islamic microfinance and the work of microfinance organisations in poor countries.
iving in the hot and dusty planes of southern Mali, all that small business women like Kadia Samaki wanted was a small amount of funds to help her out of the poverty trap. But banks did not want to lend to her because she didn’t have any collateral. The village moneylender was more than happy to oblige, yet he charged extortionate interest rates on the principal. Ten years on, Kadia runs a busy co-operative with 74 other women, nurturing, harvesting and processing shea tree nuts. “It’s all down to a small loan that Islamic Relief gave me, of course interest-free”, she smiles. “It’s Islamic after all.”
The microfinance sector Microfinance, which is the provision of small loans without collateral to poor people who 44 44
cannot access banks, is a powerful tool. Due to barriers in accessing development and poverty reduction finance, many consider microfinance programmes as a key strategy for alleviating poverty in low-income countries and helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Indeed, the United Nations designated 2005 as the ‘Year of Microcredit’. Evidence has shown that microfinance programmes can be financially and operationally sustainable and in most cases are reported to have had a significant positive impact on poor people’s social and economic empowerment, with women being the majority of borrowers worldwide. It is likely that microfinance programmes will continue to grow in the future as they diversify their activities to provide additional financial services such as savings, insurance and money
transfer facilities in addition to loans. Many microfinance programmes originally began as civil society initiatives, such as the famous Grameen programme in Bangladesh initiated by Prof. Muhammad Yunus in 1976, and have evolved into formal microfinance institutions. Many of these in turn have evolved into large commercial financial service providers with social objectives.
Why Islamic microfinance? Similarly, Islamic microfinance, although still in its infancy, seeks to provide an economic empowerment tool for poor or disadvantaged people. Based on Islamic financing methods that avoid interest, deemed exploitive according to the Shari’a, there is a focus on trade and investment in productive activities, which is consolidated by the ethical teachings
Islamic microfinance entails a wide range of Shari’a-compliant financing modes such as mark-up sales (murabaha), equity investments (mudaraba or musharaka) or leasing (ijara). Similar to conventional microfinance, Islamic microfinance targets a sector that is usually regarded by the mainstream finance industry as ‘unbankable’ due to the absolute or relative lack of collateral to secure loans against. Islamic microfinance is at the heart of the microfinance movement, breaking down the barriers to broader access to development finance. In many countries with a significant
Muslim population, however, it is not just access barriers such as the lack of collateral but the very fact that loans are interest-
grown tremendously over the last 30 years to an estimated $1 trillion (The Economist, 2009), although more recent estimates peg the industry at $1.357 trillion with growth rates well above 20% per annum (Global Islamic Finance Report 2012). Due to this growth, it is likely that Islamic microfinance alternatives will become increasingly important in the future with mainstream Islamic banks seeking to diversify their investment portfolio. This would allow investors and poor clients alike to follow their Islamic ethical compass and mutually benefit. More so, since Islamic principles are not
antithetical to the general microfinance ethos of access to the ‘unbankable’, Shari’a compliant finance interventions should make a welcome
“Despite the proliferation of institutions providing credit and loan services to poor or disadvantaged populations, very few microfinance initiatives adhere to Islamic financing principles even when their work is undertaken in largely Muslim countries.” bearing, which excludes Muslim borrowers from finance and microfinance. Despite the proliferation of institutions providing credit and loan services to poor or disadvantaged populations, very few microfinance initiatives adhere to Islamic financing principles even when their work is undertaken in largely Muslim countries. Currently, Islamic microfinance is concentrated in a few countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. According to the 2008 Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) survey, Islamic microfinance accounts for less then 0.5% of global microfinance despite a global Muslim population of over 1.6 billion. This is an interesting phenomenon, given that the mainstream Islamic finance industry has
addition to the development sector. Nonetheless, there are specific challenges to overcome in developing sustainable Shari’a compliant microfinance programmes in addition to the challenges that all microfinance programmes face such as the lack of capital before Islamic microfinance can become a more widespread and effective tool for poverty alleviation. To overcome access barriers most microfinancing, both conventional and Islamic, utilises social collateral in which clients are organised in groups who have a shared responsibility for the repayment of all outstanding funds. Other types of security might be attained through personal guarantors, credit guarantee schemes, or zakat-funded guarantees against default
or the like. However, some group lending approaches have more recently attracted criticism due to the pressure that commercial microfinance institutions put on communities, who in effect have become debt collection agents in pursuit of profit rather than mitigating moral hazard. This practice is also in contravention with Islamic injunctions to be merciful to the debtor. Whilst Islamic microfinance is currently a growing sector both within the NGO and banking industry, best practice models are still being developed. International standards for Islamic finance such as those published by
the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions (AAOIFI) and Islamic Financial Services Board (IFSB) are still not customised to micro-financial applications, nor are standards globally agreed upon amongst the different stakeholders. Greater understanding is also needed on the impact of Islamic microfinance in order to influence donors and institutions to engage with it. This is a particular challenge not just for the Islamic microfinance sector but also for conventional providers as the body of evidence for the poverty reduction impact of such lending is mixed. For Islamic microfinance institutions, relying heavily on murabaha represents a further challenge since it can be argued that even Shari’a compliant mark-up finance imitates the economic function of interest. This dilemma makes it difficult for Islamic financiers to argue that their products are actually stronger in terms of poverty reduction. The overreliance on murabaha also stifles product development since commercial Islamic bankers and NGOs prefer the simplicity of mark-up finance to mudarabah and musharaka, given the potentially increased moral hazard and the lack of a quasi guaranteed return on investment. These challenges are underpinned by the relative lack of Islamic finance professionals,
which is more pronounced in the not-forprofit sector, where qualified and experienced staff managing microfinance programmes in the field are more attracted by the remuneration that can be found in the commercial Islamic finance industry.
Islamic Relief’s microfinance programme Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) has been providing Islamic microfinance to poor people in over 20 countries during the last 15 years, disbursing loans (qard hassan), facilitating mark-up sales (murabaha) and investing in microenterprises (mudaraba, musharaka) to currently over 10,000 beneficiaries with a loan portfolio in the region of over £10m. As a humanitarian relief agency, Islamic Relief has established a reputation for being one of the leading non-specialist NGOs in the area of Islamic microfinance. Specialist microfinance institutions might have considerably larger client numbers, such as Al Amal Microfinance Bank of Yemen, the winner of the Islamic Microfinance Challenge 2010. The Challenge was sponsored by CGAP, Deutsche Bank, IDB and Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Award. Al Amal has recruited over 20,000 clients in the 2 years since coming into existence. However, Islamic Relief’s strength is the breadth and depth of its service provision.
Global Islamic Finance Report
Usually microfinance programmes are differentiated in terms of sole credit provision and as ‘credit-plus’ which includes training for various trades that entrepreneurs might want to specialize in. Islamic Relief’s microfinancing programme also carries out extensive social mobilization work, entrepreneurship, accounting and technical skills training prior to financing and is providing business and marketing support after. Moreover, often clients are graduating from more basic economic recovery programmes such as cash for work which are extensively utilized in humanitarian post-disaster relief work that IRW has carried out in the wake of, for example, the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2005 in Aceh. By taking an integrated development approach, Islamic Relief also seeks to ensure that microfinance addresses a range of factors that contribute to the economic vulnerability of poor people whilst also building sustainable livelihood opportunities for the poor and reducing the incidence of hand-outs. There are long standing microfinance programmes that Islamic Relief runs in several countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Palestine, Sudan and Mali. More recently IRW has received increasing interest from traditional humanitarian donors and funding agencies in promoting Islamic microfinance initiatives.
Islamic Development Bank, the Department for International Development, (DFID) the Scottish government and HSBC Amanah have provided funding for Islamic microfinance programmes. In some countries, IRW has implemented microfinance services through separate registered microfinance institutions (such as ‘First Islamic’ in Bosnia and ‘START’ in Kosova) whose activities are supervised by the regulatory authorities and can successfully compete with other semi-commercial MFIs in the marketplace without losing sight of Islamic Relief’s social development objectives. As Kadia’s success story illustrates microfinance has clearly had a positive impact on poverty alleviation, primarily through providing poor people with access to ethical Islamic finance for income and employment generation as well as improving standards of living through improved housing, healthcare, nutrition and education for clients, their families and the wider community.
Dr. Mohammed Kroessin is the Global Microfinance Advisor for Islamic Relief Worldwide.
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Published on Nov 10, 2012